Facebook Denies Push For Bank Transaction Data Amid Backlash

Facebook denied a Monday report from The Wall Street Journal alleging the company is currently in the process of asking for in-depth financial information on customers of major banks in the United States. In a statement provided to TechCrunch, the firm downplayed the reported scope of its ambition to build new financial services powered by its Messenger app and other solutions, consequently dismissing the majority of privacy concerns raised by its recent efforts in the field. Features such as account management and customer support chat have been supported by Facebook's services for a while now and are already live in select markets such as Singapore where Citibank customers are able to interact with a Messenger chatbot in order to check their account balance contact customer service, or report fraud. That particular functionality is entirely automated, with human employees being taken out of the equation for the purpose of ensuring a maximum level of user privacy, according to the company.

Facebook's move to approach major financial institutions in the U.S. was of similar nature and didn't entail any requests for credit card transaction histories, nor is the social media giant interested in launching a dedicated banking service moving forward, spokeswoman Elisabeth Diana said. Any partnerships with American banks Facebook may end up agreeing won't see bank customer data being used for the purposes of targeting advertisements or personalizing any other kind of content served through the company's platforms, according to the same official.

While the Monday report indicated Facebook has been proactive about all of its collaborations with banks, the Menlo Park, California-based firm said some institutions also approached it with the idea of establishing such partnerships on their own. Facebook is understood to be pursuing financial integrations with its app portfolio in order to boost user engagement rates which are being threatened by its continued fight against misinformation and low-quality content, an endeavor that already saw its News Feed largely purged from engaging content posted by Pages.

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