FACEBOOK IS STILL DATA HUNGRY and has recently started asking banks for people's financial data, according to the The Wall Street Journal.
The social network apparently approached the likes of JP Morgan Chase, Citigroup and Wells Fargo, with the aim of establishing partnerships whereby Facebook would offer the banks' customers the ability to do business in its platform in exchange for data.
Given the spectre of the Cambridge Analytica scandal that still hangs over Facebook, such a move seems pretty dubious. But, according to Facebook, it wants the data to fuel chatbots rather than get a glimpse into what people are splurging their cash on.
Facebook wants to have smarter bots that are capable of telling people what their bank balance is when Facebook users ping the smart agents a message in Messenger, at least according to a report by TechCrunch.
"A recent Wall Street Journal story implies incorrectly that we are actively asking financial services companies for financial transaction data - this is not true," Facebook spokesperson Elisabeth Diana told the website.
"Like many online companies with commerce businesses, we partner with banks and credit card companies to offer services like customer chat or account management. Account linking enables people to receive real-time updates in Facebook Messenger where people can keep track of their transaction data like account balances, receipts, and shipping updates.
"The idea is that messaging with a bank can be better than waiting on hold over the phone - and it's completely opt-in. We're not using this information beyond enabling these types of experiences - not for advertising or anything else. A critical part of these partnerships is keeping people's information safe and secure."
So it looks like Facebook's data requests are more honourable than they first appear. And Diana says that any potential features that could arise from such partnerships would be opt-in tools that the privacy-paranoid could shun.
Nevertheless, this is still arguably Facebook asking for sensitive data, which after the Cambridge Analytica scandal and Facebook accidentally making the private posts of some 14 million users public, is a bold move by the social network, given trust in it probably isn't as at an all-time high. µ
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