Facebook asks U.S. banks to share financial information, banks cite privacy concerns: report

Facebook has reportedly approached U.S. banks to ask for financial information of its customers. GETTY IMAGES

Facebook is in talks with American banks to add customers’ financial information to its Messenger platform, including transactions and chequing account balances, recent reports indicate.

A Wall Street Journal report recently claimed that Facebook has approached several U.S. banks about accessing the financial information of their customers for the purpose of providing more online shopping services on its Messenger platform.

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However, the Journal reports that despite the inquiry, banks are hesitant to partner with the social media giant due to privacy concerns. Some of the institutions approached include JPMorgan, Wells Fargo and Co., Citigroup Inc. and U.S. Bankcorp.

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A JPMorgan spokesperson reportedly told the publication that it wouldn’t be “sharing our customers’ off-platform transaction data with these platforms, and have had to say no to some things as a result.”

The discussions reportedly also included potential offerings Facebook could host for bank customers on Facebook Messenger. Facebook told the Journal that it would not share the information it obtained with third parties, nor would it use that information to create targeted advertising.

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Facebook’s stock gained 3.7 percent after the Journal broke the story.

“We don’t use purchase data from banks or credit card companies for ads. We also don’t have special relationships, partnerships, or contracts with banks or credit card companies to use their customers’ purchase data for ads,” Facebook spokeswoman Elisabeth Diana told the Journal in a statement.

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After the report was published, Facebook accused the paper of misrepresenting their conversations, and insisted that its intention was to develop features that would allow users to track their own accounts.

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Global News reached out to Facebook for comment on the news, and received the following statement in response.

“A recent Wall Street Journal story implies incorrectly that we are actively asking financial services companies for financial transaction data – this is not true. Like many online companies with commerce businesses, we partner with banks and credit card companies to offer services like customer chat or account management,” a Facebook spokesperson wrote.

“The idea is that messaging with a bank can be better than waiting on hold over the phone – and it’s completely opt-in. We’re not using this information beyond enabling these types of experiences – not for advertising or anything else. A critical part of these partnerships is keeping people’s information safe and secure,” the statement continued.

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Facebook does not currently have access to financial data from its customers, and only businesses advertising on Facebook can add their bank account information to the platform as a way to pay for Facebook ads.

This news comes as Facebook recovers from a recent data scandal involving the data analytics firm, Cambridge Analytica, which obtained access to as many as 87 million Facebook users’ account information without their consent.

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The news of Facebook’s recent inquiry to U.S. banks has hit a nerve on social media.

One scientist from the University of Pennsylvania tweeted in response to the story, and pointed out that while Facebook users can delete their social media accounts to protect their privacy, one can’t simply “delete” a bank account.

“If you’re concerned about this insanely invasive abuse of your privacy, you can, in principle, give up your Facebook account (though at significant cost for some people). But your bank account? Not so much,” Matt Blaze’s tweet read.

Several other technology and security experts also weighed in.

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Global News reached out to Facebook for comment on the report, and also inquired as to whether Canadian banks have been asked to share financial information with the platform, and will update when we receive a response.

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