Facebook has admitted providing dozens of hardware and software makers, as well as application developers with special access to user data after publicly saying it restricted such access in 2015.
According to 747 pages of documents delivered to Congress late Friday, the social networking giant continued sharing information with 61 hardware and software makers after it said it discontinued the practice in May 2015.
The documents were in response to hundreds of questions posed to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg by members of Congress in April.
Facebook said it granted a special “one-time” six-month extension to companies. The social networking giant said it made the special arrangements so hardware and software makers could ensure Facebook worked on their devices and operating systems, and application developers had time to comply with the company’s stricter access policies.
“We engaged companies to build integrations for a variety of devices, operating systems and other products where we and our partners wanted to offer people a way to receive Facebook or Facebook experiences,” the company said in the documents. “These integrations were built by our partners, for our users, but approved by Facebook.”
Facebook’s documents also said it had discovered that five other companies “theoretically could have accessed limited friends’ data” as a result of a beta test.
Facebook said it has ended 38 of the 52 partnerships. It said it will shut down an additional seven by the end of July and another one by the end of October. Among the handful that will continue beyond that are those with Amazon, Apple and Alibaba.
Zuckerberg’s testimony before both the Senate and House in April came as the social network deal with a, a digital consultancy that had ties to the Trump presidential campaign. Cambridge Analytica improperly accessed personal information on up to 87 million Facebook users, prompting a backlash that raised questions about whether Facebook can be trusted to protect the personal information of its 2 billion users.
The company has also been in the hot seat for not doing enough to prevent abuse from Russian trolls that posted misinformation and divisive content on the platform. The Russian activity was part of a program to meddle in the US presidential election and sow discord among voters.
Lawmakers in particular raised concerns over, particularly with Huawei, a company perennially in the crosshairs of the US government for security reasons.
The controversy erupted in June when the New York Times reported that Facebook had agreements to provide access to large amounts of user data to at least 60 different device makers — including companies like Apple, Microsoft, Samsung and BlackBerry.