Facebook Allowed a Chinese Firm Deemed a 'National Security Threat' to Access Personal Data: Report

Facebook's scandalous handling of private user data somehow keeps getting worse.


A new report from the New York Times on Tuesday revealed that the social media company allowed several Chinese device manufacturers to access the personal data of users and users' friends without their knowledge — including one firm, the telecommunications company Huawei, which has close ties to the ruling party in China and has been deemed a national security threat by the United States.

The data-sharing agreement Facebook had with Huawei, as well as at least three other Chinese companies, is similar to that which it had with Amazon, Apple, BlackBerry, and Samsung. The Times on Sunday revealed those data-sharing relationships, which Facebook defended by saying — implausibly — that it considered those companies "extensions of Facebook."

The partnerships allowed the devices to access information from "users and all of their friends — including work and education history, relationship status and likes."

In a statement to the newspaper, Facebook insisted that the information given to Huawei stayed on the devices that people used to access Facebook, and this information wasn't sent back to the company. However, it's not obvious Facebook could be certain about this, and the fact that these relationships remained undisclosed for so long raises questions about the company's trustworthiness.

“I look forward to learning more about how Facebook ensured that information about their users was not sent to Chinese servers,” Sen. Mark Warner (D-VA) told the Times.

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