Facebook secretly shared your data with other tech companies
From The New York Times:
Facebook has done its usual denial + deflection, responding to the private message part in a Newsroom post:
It's hard to tell how accurate that is. Alexa reading your email might give Amazon access to it. Having Mail.app fetch and send your email doesn't give Apple any access to it.
The companies involved have also denied either knowing about the access, using it, misusing it, or some/all of the above.
Where Apple is concerned, the NYT provides this bit of word salad:
You could basically log into Facebook and then have iOS pull contact and calendar information for anyone in your friends list. Facebook would also update that information as it changed.
Apple has API for all the common services like Calendar and Contacts so developers can make third party apps and you can keep your data consistent between them. All of that is implemented on the developers' side though, and all of this was implemented on Facebook's side (aside from the Settings sheets in iOS, which Apple surfaced.)
But that data went from Facebook to your local Apple device, not to Apple Inc. When iCloud was released, all your contacts and calendars could be synced to it, but Apple's model for that kind of sync was device-first, not cloud-first like Google and other internet providers.
In other words, what the NYT wrote is hard to parse and probably as confusing for Apple as for anyone. But, it's hard to see how anyone's personal data could have gone to Apple using this set up, and Apple has no business interest or use for getting that information anyway.
Facebook has had over 20 concerning incidents this year alone, so vigilance is good. And having copies of you Facebook data on other companies' servers just increases the surface area for mistakes and misuse/abuse.
So, we definitely need to find out more about who had what, for how long, and what happened to it during that period. And, yeah, delete Facebook.
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Rene Ritchie is one of the most respected Apple analysts in the business, reaching a combined audience of over 40 million readers a month. His YouTube channel, Vector, has over 90 thousand subscribers and 14 million views and his podcasts, including Debug, have been downloaded over 20 million times. He also regularly co-hosts MacBreak Weekly for the TWiT network and co-hosted CES Live! and Talk Mobile. Based in Montreal, Rene is a former director of product marketing, web developer, and graphic designer. He's authored several books and appeared on numerous television and radio segments to discuss Apple and the technology industry. When not working, he likes to cook, grapple, and spend time with his friends and family.