Earlier, news sprouted up that Facebook had partnered with various device manufacturer which included the likes of Samsung, Apple, HTC etc. Also, many claimed that this partnership would mean that the device manufacturers would have access to user information, however, Facebook denied the statements saying that the company would not share user info with these smartphone makers. Recently, another report has come up, in which Facebook has accepted that four of the partnerships that it has forged are in China. One of them is with the renowned smartphone manufacturer Huawei.
Francisco Varela, Vice President of Mobile Partnership at Facebook confirmed the news citing that the social media giant indeed worked with many technology companies one of which was Huawei “Facebook’s integrations with Huawei, Lenovo, OPPO and TCL were controlled from the get-go- and we approved the Facebook experiences these companies built.” He further added, “Given the interest from Congress, we wanted to make clear that all the information from these integrations with Huawei was stored on the device, not on Huawei’s servers.”
The Facebook executive later confirmed that Huawei, Lenovo Group, and smartphone makers Oppo and TCL Corp were among the 60 other companies who were granted access to user information post the partnership between these companies and Facebook. Varela also said that these companies were looking to recreate Facebook like experience on their phones.
Facebook’s partnerships came under the public eye when Members of the Congress raised concerns after a New York Times report was published suggesting that the social media giant had shared users’ friends’ information without taking their explicit consent.
The counterattack to this NYT article came in the form of a blog post written by Facebook’s Vice President of Product Partnerships, Ime Archibong. The blog was titled ‘Why We Disagree With The New York Times’. In the blog post, the VP did admit to forging partnerships with the said 60 companies, however, he did not forget to mention that the company had already ended 22 of those partnerships and was already on the verge of closing down the data sharing activity with these partners in coming days.
Out of the companies which will be excluded from Facebook’s list of partnerships, Huawei will also be another name. It is also noteworthy that the Chinese smartphone manufacturer is already under investigation by the US Department of Justice for violating export sanctions in Iran, later this week. The company further asserted that it would put an end to more Chinese partnerships which include ZTE, a company which is banned from the US till 2025.
Senator Mark Warner, vice chairman of the Intelligence Committee, spoke in a statement to Reuters “The news that Facebook provided privileged access to Facebook’s API to Chinese device makers like Huawei and TCL raises legitimate concerns, and I look forward to learning more about how Facebook ensured that information about their users was not sent to Chinese servers.”
It is very well known that this is not the first time that Facebook has come under the scrutiny of US government agencies. The US Federal Trade Commission had also confirmed it back in March that it was investigating Facebook’s data privacy practices after the Cambridge Analytica scandal which led to the leak of personal information of 87 million Facebook users.