US prosecutors probing Facebook's data deals

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg leaves the Elysee presidential palace in Paris

Facebook did not respond to questions about the focus or nature of the investigation.

A grand jury subpoenaed records from two smartphone developers, The New York Times reported Wednesday, citing two anonymous sources familiar with the matter.

"This episode has clearly hurt us", Facebook CEO Zuckerberg told Congress past year while speaking about the Cambridge Analytica scandal. Those deals, which were previously examined by the NYT, allowed companies to access Facebook features from their own services.

Facebook admitted in June that it provided dozens of tech companies with special access to user data after publicly saying it restricted such access in 2015. Other arrangements allowed Amazon to obtain users' names and contact information through their friends and permitted Yahoo to view streams of friends' posts as recently as this summer, the Times reported, despite Facebook's statements that it had ended that type of data sharing.

Facebook has defended the deals.

A NY grand jury has subpoenaed records from "at least two prominent makers of smartphones and other devices", the Times reported, citing two unnamed sources.

In December, following the Times report, Facebook said in a blog entry that these partnerships were necessary to enable certain social features in outside apps, like logging into a Facebook account from a Windows phone, or sharing what Spotify song you were listening to via Facebook Messenger.

Despite these assurances, the partnerships are now the subject of a federal investigation.

News of the investigation comes exactly one week after Mark Zuckerberg published a lengthy memo outlining his vision to turn Facebook into a "privacy-focused" platform.

Facebook seemed to confirm the report by telling the Times it is "cooperating" with investigators. The US Attorney's Office for the Eastern District of NY declined to confirm or deny the investigation's existence.

Facebook is already facing the prospect of multi-billion dollar fines to settle privacy investigations by the US Federal Trade Commission and other agencies. "We've provided public testimony, answered questions and pledged that we will continue to do so".

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