Business, Facebook's shared user data with select companies

Facebook let select companies have “special access” to user data, per report

In addition, according to Facebook, any deal extensions signed after that time were kept under the new restrictions - only friends lists could be shared with app developers, not private information such as user interests or personal photos.

The Wall Street Journal reported Friday that the social network cut deals with a number of companies to provide access to user records and friend data even after its policy change that prevented apps from scraping that very information. Under that disclosure, Facebook said it had some deals in place with a small number of entities through which users' friends data was accessible, but the company said it stopped providing access to it in 2015. This includes data such as phone numbers and "friend links", which measure the degree of closeness between users and their friends.

Some of the agreements, known internally as "whitelists", allowed certain companies to access additional information about a user's Facebook friends, the people familiar with the matter said, according to a Wall Street Journal report.

Facebook admitted sharing users' data with Chinese company Huawei - facing the heat in the U.S. over data privacy concerns - along with three other China-based smartphone makers Lenovo, OPPO and TCL. One former Facebook employee told the Journal, "99 percent of developers were treated the same, but 1 percent got special treatment because they accounted for all the value of the platform". "A few developers including Nissan and RBC asked for a short extension - and those extensions ended several years ago".

"But other than that, things were shut down", he told the Wall Street Journal. The deals gave device makers access to users' information, such as relationship status and political affiliation.

Facebook reportedly gave certain companies preferential treatment as well, setting up "internal teams dedicated to brokering and developing customized data deals".

The arrangements with device makers and software bug issue are likely to be examined by the Federal Trade Commission.

More: After Facebook hearings, users want to know: who is protecting my data?

Facebook's data practices have been under scrutiny since earlier this year when it was revealed analytics firm Cambridge Analytica, had improperly accessed data of 87 million users.

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