Facebook Gave Netflix Access to Your Private Messages, Netflix Claims It Didn’t Ask For or Use It
If you found this article on Facebook ... uh, maybe think about whether you’re really comfortable doing that moving forward?
An explosive report in The New York Times this week revealed that Facebook “gave some of the world’s largest technology companies more intrusive access to users’ personal data than it has disclosed, effectively exempting those business partners from its usual privacy rules.” Those companies included Microsoft, Amazon, Spotify, and — of particular note to movie and TV fans like the ones who read this website — Netflix.
According to another Times article about Facebook’s secret sharing of your data, Netflix (like Spotify) was given access to “people’s Facebook messages as part of features that allowed people to suggest movies, TV shows and music to friends.” This manifested in situations where, after watching a movie on Netflix, you could then connect to Facebook and recommend it to friends.
Although the feature was eventually “deactivated,” according to The Times, Netflix still maintained the access to Facebook users’ private messages until 2017. Prior to that, Netflix had “the ability not only to send private messages but also to read, write and delete them, and to see all participants on a thread.” That is pretty serious, and pretty shocking stuff.
Netflix told The Times it didn’t even know it had such wide-ranging access, and only sent the recommendation messages that users wanted. And they even responded to the Times’ report on Twitter, leaving a cutesy response to what is a fairly massive online privacy scandal.
It’s funny, because your private data was being given away without your permission to many of the largest companies in the world!
Let’s give Netflix the benefit of the doubt here. They claim they didn’t know just how much access they had, and they didn’t use it. Regardless, for everyone who uses Facebook — and who connects their Facebook account to any other platform — this should be an eye-opening moment. Regardless of the public statements they make, and they assurances they give, your data is their product, and clearly they are not afraid to maximize its profit potential. So be very aware of that, and of who you give that data to and why — and maybe don’t be afraid to take your access away if you don’t like what some companies are doing with it.
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