The U.K. Parliament showed internal Facebook Inc. $FB emails that show Mark Zuckerberg and other executives discussing rough tactics to kick out competitors, and also talking about possibilities for monetizing the massive amounts of users’ data that was collected by the company.
“It is clear that increasing revenues from major app developers was one of the key drivers behind the Platform 3.0 changes at Facebook,” the Committee’s report says about Facebook’s decision to end developer access to the friends’ data API. “The idea of linking access to friends data to the financial value of the developers’ relationship with Facebook is a recurring feature of the documents.”
In a statement posted to Facebook corporate website, Facebook said, “There is an important distinction between friends’ data and friend lists.”
“In some situations, when necessary, we allowed developers to access a list of the users’ friends. This was not friends’ private information but a list of your friends (name and profile pic),” the statement said.
Many of the emails aren’t clear and it’s too early to make a conclusion. But the documents may bring new problems for the company as it faces a range of regulatory inquiries on both sides of the Atlantic into how it safeguards user privacy, treats its competitors and controls access to its platform.
“Like any organization, we had a lot of internal discussion and people raised different ideas. Ultimately, we decided on a model where we continued to provide the developer platform for free and developers could choose to buy ads if they wanted. This model has worked well.”
Said Zuckerberg, on the Facebook post on Wednesday.
The CEO said that a lot of that changes were based in the company’s attempts in 2014 and 2015 to get rid of “sketchy” apps, as well as building a business that can bring profit and be sustainable.
The 250 pages of documents were published on Wednesday as part of parliamentary procedures in the U.K. as lawmakers there examined Facebook’s use of data.
The summary of the documents was prepared by Damian Collins, chairman of the House of Commons Digital, Media, Culture and Sport Committee.
“It is not clear that there was any user consent for this, nor how Facebook decided which companies should be whitelisted or not,” the report states.
In response, Facebook $FB has denied that it sold user data. A spokesperson for Facebook told Yahoo Finance, “As we’ve said many times, the documents Six4Three gathered for their baseless case are only part of the story and are presented in a way that is very misleading without additional context. We stand by the platform changes we made in 2015 to stop a person from sharing their friends’ data with developers. Like any business, we had many internal conversations about the various ways we could build a sustainable business model for our platform. But the facts are clear: we’ve never sold people’s data.”