Facebook’s extensive history of antitrust allegations has culminated in a leaked trove of 7,000+ documents substantiating the most previous allegation.
These documents were leaked by an anonymous source to investigative reporter Daniel Campbell, who further released them to news agencies and the public on Wednesday. This cache mainly consists of confidential documents from a lawsuit filed against Facebook by app developing company Six4three. Some of the contents of the cache have been out in the open since December 2018.
Around 4,000 records in the repository are Facebook’s internal emails, meeting summaries, spreadsheets, graphs, etc. that provide decisive evidence for Facebook’s unethical practices. They highlight Zuckerberg and other higher official’s plans on ways to achieve a greater foothold in the tech industry.
The biggest concerns this data uncovers, or rather, reinforces are Facebook’s misuse of its user’s personal data and its moves to crush all competition from other social networking services.
Facebook has been accused of unethically evading competition in the past, resulting in strict surveillance from the Federal Trade Commission. The latest leaked stockpot of Facebook’s internal data proved that the allegations weren’t far from the truth. The files revealed that Facebook picks which companies to share data with, as part of its API program. Data is withheld from potential competitors and shared with companies deemed profitable. Thus, companies that can offer valuable user data in return and aren’t a threat to Facebook’s popularity are favoured. For instance, Facebook allowed Amazon – who advertises on Facebook – to have explicit access to user data while denying the same to others.
The data Facebook collects from its users is also obtained through questionable means. A series of emails in the trove revealed that Zuckerberg and other officials were pondering ways to bypass Android permissions on third-party apps’ access to a user’s call logs and messages.
Facebook calls the trove ‘cherry-picked’
In April Facebook vice president Paul Grewal released a statement addressing the lawsuit with Six4three. In this statement, he defends Facebook by calling the data in the court files one-sided.
Despite Facebook’s insistence on the biased nature of this data, it has tried hard to prevent it from reaching the public eye.
Facebook has publicized itself as a company dedicated to creating a meaningful virtual social network for people to connect through. Their recent decision to decrease sponsored content on the news feed was a push in this apparent direction. However, it’s becoming clear that Facebook’s actual goal is to monopolize the tech industry.
User mistrust: not as recent as you think
The cache also dishes that mistrust was a thing among users way before Facebook fell into its current web of scandals and controversies. An email exchange dating back to 2011 tells of the diminishing trust of users in third-party apps and their growing scepticism about app permissions.
The email, written by the then vice president of product management, Will Cathcart, states:
Facebook has been in hot water for the last two years for allegations related to users’ data privacy, data security and misuse of users’ personal data. However, it looks like that despite coughing up billions of dollars in fine to settle those lawsuits social media behemoth is still fighting with allegations that keep cropping p at regular intervals. The company has not only lost the trust factor among the users but also facing challenges in rolling out new initiatives authorities are quite concerned about.