The documents were never meant to see the light of day, but under pressure from the UK Parliament, the CEO of a small IT firm suing Facebook was forced to hand them in, revealing a double standard in the social media giant’s approach in providing firms with access to its database.
The UK Parliament has published vast amounts of internal documents and emails from the top management at Facebook from 2012-2015 as part of a probe into how the social media giant manages its user data. These documents revealed that Facebook had actually favoured certain companies, such as Airbnb, Lyft, and Netflix, providing them with exclusive access to user data. Firms that managed to strike a deal with Facebook received more extensive access to information on social media users than most other firms, including their competitors.
At the same time, Facebook blocked certain applications from its API and database if the social media giant found that the apps “replicated [Facebook’s] core functionality”. In other words, other social media applications were banned from accessing Facebook’s databases.
In an official statement, Facebook said that the documents show “only part of the story” and could be misleading if not seen in context. The social media platform insisted that it had never “sold people’s data”.
The British Parliament obtained the documents from the CEO of a small IT firm, Six4Three, who is currently suing Facebook. A California judge prohibited him from sharing the data, but he said that he was forced to give it up when he was escorted to the UK Parliament during a trip to London.