US federal investigators are said to be scrutinising Mark Zuckerberg's company over how Facebook has entered into partnerships with other companies to provide access to the personal information of millions of Facebook users.
As part of the criminal investigation, a grand jury in New York has subpoenaed records from at least two "prominent" smartphone makers, reported the NYT, which got tipped off by people familiar with the situation.
The investigation was triggered by it coming to light, via another NYT report, that partnerships with the social network allowed some services to access the personal data of Facebook users; for example, the Bing search engine could see the names of Facebook users' friends without their consent, and Spotify and Netflix could read a Facebook user's private messages.
At the time, Facebook said the partnerships with other companies only allowed access to information users had consented to give it.
But this response didn't seem to placate federal investigators, and now Facebook is facing a criminal probe.
While the US is leading the charge here, we wouldn't be surprised if EU investigators also decided to probe Facebook, especially if the US investigation throws up some interesting insights into the social network's data dealings.
We approached Facebook for any insight and comment on the situation, but it rather lazily pointed us to the response it gave the NYT... great work folks.
"We are cooperating with investigators and take those probes seriously," said a Facebook spokesman. "We've provided public testimony, answered questions and pledged that we will continue to do so."
So much for clarity and transparency. And this investigation comes at a time when Zuckerberg is waffling about getting data use under control and make Facebook a "privacy-focussed" platform. So it would seem like he's got a lot more work ahead of him to bring that frankly bizarre vision into effect. µ
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