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British Lawmaker Releases Documents Allegedly Showing Facebook Gave Companies Preferential Access to User Data

A British lawmaker on Wednesday accused Facebook of providing “whitelisting agreements” to preferred companies that would allow them to keep accessing the data of the friends of their users—even after the app shuttered the practice, according to a report from The Washington Post. “Facebook have clearly entered into whitelisting agreements with certain companies, which meant that after the platform changes in 2014/15 they maintained full access to friends data,” said Damian Collins, the head of the British parliament’s probe into Facebook and Cambridge Analytica. “It is not clear that there was any user consent for this, nor how Facebook decided which companies should be whitelisted or not.” Facebook did not respond to the Post’s request for comment.

The committee released 200 pages of previously-sealed documents from a related case in California—in which app developer Ted Kramer is suing the platform for allegedly providing preferential treatment—that appear to bolster Collins’ claim. In a statement last week, Facebook acknowledged that some developers were given access to that data for longer than others, but insisted that the access was only intended to keep the platform from breaking. “The documents Six4Three gathered for this baseless case are only part of the story and are presented in a way that is very misleading without additional context,” said Facebook’s director of developer platforms and programs. “We stand by the platform changes we made in 2015 to stop a person from sharing their friends’ data with developers. Any short-term extensions granted during this platform transition were to prevent the changes from breaking user experience.”