Facebook caught sharing private user data with telecom companies, phone makers: Report

Facebook's apps harvest and package eight different categories of information for use by 100 companies.

Facebook and its data privacy woes seem to meet no end.

The social media giant has been found to be offering private data of users to 100 different telecom companies and phone makers in 50 countries without their knowledge or consent.

A sealed document reviewed by The Intercept, reveals that the shared data includes technical details about smartphones, cellular and WiFi networks used by Facebook users, the locations visited, their social groups and even their hobbies and interests.

All this is allegedly being done through a corporate data-sharing programme announced by Facebook last year, called "Actionable Insights." The sole aim of this programme was to address the issue of weak cellular data connections in various parts of the world.

Facebook logo is reflected in glasses. Reuters

Facebook logo is reflected in glasses. Reuters

Facebook, at the time, said the programme also aims to enable "better business decisions" through "analytics tools," which according to The Intercept, actually meant helping selected companies to buy more tightly targeted ads by providing them users' personal data.

This data collection is not only restricted to the main Facebook iOS and Android apps but also Messenger and Instagram.

Once gathered, the data is then provided to selected partners to let them evaluate where they stand against their competitors in the market and to enable them to serve targeted ads to consumers.

But how does this benefit Facebook?

While Facebook may not be directly using the collected information, a source familiar with the matter tells the publication that the social media giant is offering the data to telecom and smartphone makers supposedly free of charge in order to strengthen its advertising relationships with them.

Facebook reacted in a statement saying, "We do not, nor have we ever, rated people's creditworthiness for Actionable Insights or across ads, and Facebook does not use people's credit information in how we show ads".

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