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Facebook gave tech companies like Amazon, Microsoft and Netflix unprecedented access to user information, according to an investigation by The New York Times. The partnerships are the latest in a long series of privacy concerns surrounding Facebook, and a potential violation of the company's 2011 agreement with the Federal Trade Commission.
Facebook has been accused of violating the consent decree — a misstep that would likely carry a multibillion-dollar fine — several times over the last year. This report, though, alleges Facebook maintained improper partnerships far more recently, with a huge number of companies, and knowingly.
The FTC declined to comment on the latest report, but has previously confirmed a probe into the company's privacy practices.
And as Facebook continues to suffer security breaches, increasingly detailed user profiles — stored across widespread networks and shared among companies — leave consumers vulnerable.
Facebook stock was down more than 2 percent on Wednesday morning, as most other tech stocks were rallying.
Facebook allowed tech companies to view private messages and contact information as recently as this year, the Times report says, which would violate the FTC's orders against sharing a user's information without their consent — even if a friend has opted in. Before that, Facebook allowed the third parties access to other data, like lists of friends and email addresses. Companies like Microsoft, Yahoo, Spotify and Apple had special agreements with Facebook that let them access the data, the report says.
The partnerships would also contradict Facebook's public statements about third-party apps. Facebook has been auditing its partnerships to root out any inappropriate access to user information in the wake of a scandal involving British research firm Cambridge Analytica.
In a blog post Wednesday, Facebook admitted to granting tech companies wide-ranging access but said it was a means to help users. The company said the features were key to the core functionality of Facebook, and said many of them have been shut down.
"To be clear: none of these partnerships or features gave companies access to information without people's permission, nor did they violate our 2012 settlement with the FTC," Facebook said.
Read the full New York Times investigation.