Facebook admitted to sharing in-depth user data with 52 companies, both domestic and foreign, as part of its 748-page follow-up to Mark Zuckerberg's testimony in front of the House Energy and Commerce Committee this April. The data-sharing partnerships have been ongoing for years, though 38 ended up being terminated to date, with the majority of them being discontinued following the emergence of the Cambridge Analytica scandal, the main reason why the company's co-founder, Chairman, and Chief Executive Officer was testifying in front of stateside lawmakers in the first place. Seven more collaborations will be discontinued in the immediate future, the social media giant said.
The manner in which a Cambridge Analytica-affiliated researcher managed to compromise tens of millions of users via an online personality quiz relying on a Facebook login has been officially forbidden by the firm's terms of service for developers in 2015, though a number of its partners — including major original equipment manufacturers such as Samsung — were still able to circumvent those rules and even continue harvesting data on one's Facebook friends, The New York Times reported in June. The internet juggernaut said that while some privacy checks and controls didn't apply to its largest partners, all of them were bound to only leverage user data for the purposes of improving the Facebook experiences of their customers. In the case of OEMs, that would mean someone like Samsung could have only used those in-depth analytics to work on its custom implementation of the Facebook app, though the need for such partnerships eroded over the years as Facebook managed to catch up with its user base and create a unified mobile application compatible with the vast majority of contemporary Android devices.
The remaining data-sharing partnerships all have the same goal of ensuring Facebook's social media network runs in an optimal manner on select hardware and accompanying software, the Menlo Park, California-based firm said as part of its written response to some 1,200 questions the parliamentary committee asked without receiving an answer from Mr. Zuckerberg this spring. Facebook's stock not only completely recovered after the Cambridge Analytica debacle broke out in late March but even reached an all-time high less than three months following the emergence of the ordeal, breaking the $200 mark some two weeks ago. The company repeatedly vowed to do better to protect the privacy of its users moving forward, having apologized for its previous omissions, though it's still being criticized by a vocal portion of industry watchers and users.