Facebook for years gave major tech companies, including Yahoo and Netflix, greater access to people’s data than it disclosed, a New York Times investigation found. The partnerships helped Facebook draw new users, ramp up its advertising revenue and embed itself on sites across the web.
This is how some of the key deals worked.
In 2011, when Yahoo and Facebook announced their partnership, social networking features were seen as crucial to attracting users to existing websites. In a news release that September, Yahoo announced that it was “putting people’s friends front and center to usher in an innovative way of connecting around content socially.”
Yahoo said people who opted in to its new features would see their Facebook friends and the articles those friends had read, in a “facebar” at the top of the Yahoo News site.
As with many social features from that time, the integration did not work as well as the companies had hoped, and it soon ended. Yet Yahoo maintained special data access for more than 80,000 accounts, according to internal Facebook documents reviewed by The Times. As recently as this summer, Yahoo was able to view a stream of posts from these people’s friends, and it is unclear what the company did with that information. A Yahoo spokesman said the company did not use the information for advertising.