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Saturday, April 13, 2024

Court Docs: Facebook Allowed Netflix to Access User DMs

'In August 2013, Facebook provided Netflix with access to … among other things, Facebook user’s ‘messaging app and non-app friends...'

(Ken Silva, Headline USA) Newly unsealed court records allege that Facebook allowed Netflix to access users’ direct messages for years as part of a multi-hundred-million-dollar advertising partnership.

The court records were reportedly filed last year but were sealed until earlier this month. They come from a long-running antitrust lawsuit to individuals filed against Facebook in 2020.

The most damning record appears to be an email the plaintiffs’ lawyers wrote to the presiding judge in April 2023. In that email, the lawyers told the judge about Facebook giving Netflix access to user DMs—a partnership that began when then-Netflix CEO Reed Hastings joined Facebook’s board in 2011.

“By 2013, Netflix had begun entering into a series of ‘Facebook Extended API’ agreements, including a so-called ‘Inbox API’ agreement that allowed Netflix programmatic access to Facebook’s user’s private message inboxes,” the email said.

“In August 2013, Facebook provided Netflix with access to … among other things, Facebook user’s ‘messaging app and non-app friends.’”

The antitrust lawsuit accuses Facebook of sabotaging its own streaming service, dubbed “Watch,” due to its partnership with Netflix. But the news about Netflix reading Facebook DMs was the big takeaway for many social media users.

Facebook parent company Meta has denied the allegations.

“Meta didn’t share people’s private messages with Netflix. The agreement allowed people to message their friends on Facebook about what they were watching on Netflix, directly from the Netflix app,” said Meta spokesman Andy Stone. “Such agreements are commonplace in the industry.”

Facebook has played loose with the truth in previous privacy scandals, including the Cambridge Analytica controversy.

Revelations from Cambridge Analytica showed that the data-mining firm had gathered details on as many as 87 million Facebook users without their permission, eventually leading to congressional hearings in which Facebook CEO and founder Mark Zuckerberg testified for the first time.

Ken Silva is a staff writer at Headline USA. Follow him at twitter.com/jd_cashless.

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