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Data Management

Meta Accused Of Allowing Netflix To Read Facebook Users’ Private Messages!

By TD NewsDesk

TD NewsDesk

Updated on Thu, Apr 4, 2024

Overall Rating
In this age of digitalization, social media has become the new “hangout spot”.

Platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, Messenger, WhatsApp, X, Snapchat and others have provided people with the ability to interact with peers and professionals digitally, whether by text, audio or video.

Instant messaging means that people can interact in real-time, share their personal experiences or ask for suggestions, recommendations or random questions.

Furthermore, these platforms help users keep conversations private, disallowing others to view what conversations are transpiring.

At least that’s the idea of such platforms, however, Meta’s Facebook has come into some hot soup with a few allegations that accuse the company of sharing private user conversations.

So, what is Meta being accused of exactly and how did the company respond? Let’s explore!

What Is Meta’s Facebook Being Accused Of?

  • Debarghya (Deedy) Das, an investor in AI and Infra at Menlo Ventures, who was also a part of Glean and Google Search, published a post on X with a screenshot of an excerpt from a court filing that emerged as part of a class action lawsuit.

  • The filing mentioned that Netflix was able to access the private inboxes of Facebook users.

  • The post was accompanied with a caption that read, “This is shocking. Facebook gave Netflix all your private messages on Messenger in exchange for all your watch history, while Netflix paid them $100M+ for ads. Meta will sell your data at a heartbeat for profit.”

  • It even gathered the attention of Elon Musk, who replied to other people’s posts addressing the same accusations with “Wow” and “Yup”.

  • The filing further states that Netflix and Facebook had agreements in place for over a decade, in which Netflix bought hundreds of millions of dollars in Facebook ads, received bespoke access to private Facebook APIs and the two indulged in various data sharing agreements.

  • A major factor in the partnership was played by Netflix’s then-CEO Reed Hastings, who held a position on Facebook’s board from 2011-2019, “personally directed the companies’ relationship, from advertising spend, to data-sharing agreements, to communications” and even directed the company to end competition in streaming videos.

  • A month after joining the Facebook board, Netflix had announced a Facebook integration to share Netflix user data internationally and by 2013, Netflix began entering a series of “Facebook Extended API” agreements, including a so-called “Inbox API” agreement that allowed Netflix programmatic access to Facebook’s user’s private message inboxes.

  • The report also states that Netflix had access to Facebook’s “Titan API”, which allowed it to integrate with Facebook’s messaging app.

  • This also included Netflix providing a written report every two weeks of engagements with users.

TechDogs-"Alt-text: An Image Of The Screenshot Shared By Debarghya (Deedy) Das On X"  

What Did Meta Say?

  • Andy Stone, the Communications Director at Meta, reposted Das’s X post with a reply to the accusation, saying, “Shockingly untrue. Meta didn’t share people’s private messages with Netflix. The agreement allowed people to message their friends on Facebook about what they were watching on Netflix, directly from the Netflix app. Such agreements are commonplace in the industry.”

  • Beyond this, Meta hasn’t provided any other comment on the matter.

  • In contrast, the company had posted blog post in 2018 when it was accused of allowing Netflix and Spotify to read users’ private messages. As per the blog post at the time, “We worked closely with four partners to integrate messaging capabilities into their products so people could message their Facebook friends — but only if they chose to use Facebook Login. These experiences are common in our industry.”

  • The blog further mentioned, “No third party was reading your private messages, or writing messages to your friends without your permission. Many news stories imply we were shipping over private messages to partners, which is not correct.”

Facebook implemented default end-to-end encryption in Messenger in December 2023, meaning that prior to that, there remains room for doubt about its inbox data sharing practices and how much data was actually shared, especially considering the access provided to Netflix.

Do you think Meta’s data sharing agreements should be scrutinized by regulatory authorities to ensure consumer data privacy? Do you think other social media platforms should also be subject to such scrutiny?

Let us know in the comments below!

First published on Thu, Apr 4, 2024

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