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Facebook Acknowledges Data-Sharing Pact with Chinese Companies


FILE - Visitors take photos in front of the Facebook logo at the company's headquarters, March 28, 2018, in Menlo Park, Calif.

Facebook has admitted that it had a data sharing agreement with four Chinese technology companies, including one considered a national security threat by the U.S. intelligence community, raising new concerns about the social media giant's handling of its consumer's personal information.

The admission by the U.S.-based social media giant Tuesday came two days after The New York Times revealed that Facebook had struck special data-sharing deals with as many as 60 device makers, including Huawei, Lenovo, OPPO and TCL, to make it easier for Facebook users to access their accounts on a wide array of devices.

U.S. intelligence officials have raised concerns for years about Huawei, fearing the Chinese government could demand access to data stored on their devices or servers. The concerns prompted the U.S. military to ban the sale of Huawei smartphones on its bases.

Francisco Varela, Facebook's vice president of mobile partnerships, said Tuesday that the data sharing deals with Huawei and the other Chinese companies "were controlled from the get-go."

Facebook has been under intense criticism after it was disclosed that tens of millions of users' personal information was accessed by the British-based political consultancy firm Cambridge Analytica. The company has also been under fire after revealing in September that Russians, using fake names, used social media to try to influence voters ahead of the 2016 U.S. election.

The U.S. Federal Trade Commission is investigating whether Facebook violated a 2011 consent agreement over a previous ruling that found Facebook had misled consumers over its data-use policies.

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