Facebook is again facing more scrutiny after it was revealed that the company entered into a data-sharing agreement with four prominent Chinese device manufacturers.
According to reports, Facebook allegedly has a data-sharing agreement with four of China’s largest device manufacturers. The four Chinese companies include Huawei Technologies, Lenovo, OPPO, and TCL. This new issue raises concerns about Facebook’s failed efforts to let its users know how their personal information is being used beyond the social media platform.
“Facebook’s integrations with Huawei, Lenovo, OPPO, and TCL were controlled from the get go — and we approved the Facebook experiences these companies built. Given the interest from Congress, we wanted to make clear that all the information from these integrations with Huawei was stored on the device, not on Huawei’s servers,” Francisco Varela, Facebook’s vice president of mobile partnership said in a statement.
The company’s disclosure came after the Senate Intelligence Committee’s Senator Mark Warner said Tuesday that the social network’s sharing of user information with Chinese device makers could be a ‘serious’ danger. However, Facebook firmly said that it was careful about its alleged partnership with the device makers.
A report from The New York Times over the weekend claimed that Facebook had entered into deals with around 60 phone and device manufacturers over the past several years. This gave the partner companies access to a massive chunk of information about Facebook users and their friends. As of writing, it is still not known whether the shared data are being used by the device manufacturers personally or are being transferred to unauthorized third parties.
This new data trust issue comes just a few months after the Cambridge Analytica scandal which landed Facebook CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, in front of lawmakers for questioning. It should be noted that only last March, it was revealed that around 87 million Facebook user accounts had been compromised.
Since then, Zuckerberg and his company has made several changes to its data security policies and updated it’s application to give users more power over their information and how they want it to be shared.
However, confirming the data-sharing agreement has only raised more questions among the U.S. lawmakers about how Facebook is handling the usage and storage of its user data.
“The news that Facebook provided privileged access to Facebook’s API to Chinese device makers like Huawei and TCL raises legitimate concerns. I look forward to learning more about how Facebook ensured that information about their users was not sent to Chinese servers,” Senator Warner was quoted as saying.