Internal Emails Shine Light On Facebook’s Approach to Sharing and Selling Data With Developers

Your personal data has always been the key to Facebook’s business — and Facebook executives, including CEO Mark Zuckerberg, have used access to that personal data to strengthen strategic partnerships and hurt competitors over the years. At one point, Zuckerberg even considered selling users’ personal data to outside app developers.

That much was clear from a new trove of internal Facebook emails and other documents released by British lawmakers Wednesday. The documents had previously been sealed as part of an ongoing lawsuit filed against Facebook in California, but were made public by Britain’s Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee, which collected the documents last week.

“I believe there is considerable public interest in releasing these documents,” tweeted Damian Collins, the committee’s chair. “They raise important questions about how Facebook treats users data [sic], their policies for working with app developers, and how they exercise their dominant position in the social media market.”

The emails, which mostly date from 2012 to 2015, include conversations from Facebook’s top executives about the company’s developer tools and data-sharing practices before widespread changes were made to limit access to some user data in early 2015.

A Facebook blog post says the emails were “cherrypicked” from the lawsuit and represent “only one side of the story.”

“I understand there is a lot of scrutiny on how we run our systems. That’s healthy given the vast number of people who use our services around the world, and it is right that we are constantly asked to explain what we do,” Zuckerberg wrote in a Facebook post published Wednesday. “But it’s also important that the coverage of what we do — including the explanation of these internal documents — doesn’t misrepresent our actions or motives. This was an important change to protect our community, and it achieved its goal.”

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