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Facebook reveals firms with special rights to users' personal data

Tim Maytom

As part of its disclosure to the US Senate committees investigating the firm, Facebook has revealed which companies have been given special access to users' data after other businesses had been shut out.

61 companies had been given a temporary exemption to a block put in place that prevented apps from accessing details about users' friends, while a further 52 were authorised to tap into the social network's data to "recreate Facebook-like experiences". Among the companies listed are Nike, Audi, AOL, Snap and Spotify.

Facebook has already faced criticism from US lawmakers last month after it emerged that several Chinese companies including phone manufacturer Huawei had been included on the latter list, despite the fact that Facebook had never received explicit user consent.

The existence of 61 exemptions is in contrast to previous answers Mark Zuckerberg and Facebook's legal team have given to the US Senate committee. Facebook had previously claimed that all access to users' friends data, which was at the centre of the Cambridge Analytica scandal, was restricted to third parties in 2015.

The exemptions, where we first reported in the Wall Street Journal, were part of a 748 page document providing the US Senate with further details and answers to the questions asked of Mark Zuckerberg when he testified on 10 and 11 April.

The latter list, of companies that had access to members' personal details in order to build their own "versions of Facebook or Facebook features" includes Kodak, O2, Orange, Warner Bros, Alibaba, Yahoo and LG, among others, with several of these partnerships still active despite claims that they breach privacy commitments Facebook has made to both the public and US watchdogs.