Facebook Struck Deals Over Data and Burnt Rivals, Say Lawmakers

Facebook's CEO Mark Zuckerberg delivers his speech during the Viva Tech trade fair in Paris

Facebook’s CEO Mark Zuckerberg

Mr Collins alleged that Facebook maintained "whitelisting agreements" which gave select companies preferential access to valuable user data.

Collins has been among leaders of a British inquiry into fake news on social media, one of the many issues that has brought Facebook into the crosshairs of governments in several countries. "It is not clear that there was any user consent for this, nor how Facebook decided which companies should be whitelisted or not".

Damian Collins MP, Chair of the DCMS Committee that's probing the social network, wrote: 'Facebook knew that the changes to its policies on the Android mobile phone system, which enabled the Facebook app to collect a record of calls and texts sent by the user would be controversial.

Facebook, which has described the Six4Three case as baseless, said the released communications are misleading without additional context, but did not elaborate.

The increased exposure of private data generated more revenue for app developers, and this outcome was the key driver behind the changes made by Facebook.

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"Like any business, we had many of internal conversations about the various ways we could build a sustainable business model for our platform", Facebook said in an emailed statement.

The 200-plus pages of documents, which are under seal in the U.S.as part of an ongoing lawsuit in California between Facebook and the developer Six4Three, were obtained late last month by Collins, who used the legislative body's sergeant-at-arms to seize them from a Six4Three executive. With regards to Onavo, Facebook argues "we've always been clear when people download Onavo about the information that is collected and how it is used, including by Facebook".

A January 2013 email in the documents from Justin Osofsky, currently Facebook's vice president for global operations and media partnerships, notes that Twitter had just launched Vine, its now-discontinued short-video service, which was allowing their users to find friends via Facebook. Facebook planned to make it as hard as possible for users to know that this was happening.

Facebook warned that the cache of documents alone weren't enough on their own to understand the full story of the decisions it made and how they were reached.

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