Facebook probed over data-sharing deals with world’s biggest tech firms

In this May 1, 2018, file photo, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg delivers the keynote speech at F8, Facebook's developer conference in San Jose, Calif. AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez, File

Facebook is the subject of a federal criminal investigation that’s looking into its data-sharing deals with some of the biggest tech firms on the planet, The New York Times reported Wednesday.

The social media giant acknowledged the report in a tweet, saying that it is already facing federal investigations.

The Times reported that a New York grand jury has subpoenaed records from at least two companies that make smartphones and other equipment. Each of these companies had struck agreements with Facebook that allowed them to access users’ personal information.

Those companies were not named in the story, but the Times noted that Facebook has data-sharing partnerships with companies including Microsoft, Apple, Sony and Amazon.

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Those partnerships have allowed private companies to see users’ contact info and their friends.

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Facebook has spent the last two years eliminating those partnerships, the Times added.

READ MORE: Facebook rules out DDoS cyber attack as widespread service outage continues

The Times report emerged on the same day that Facebook saw widespread outages on its apps, including Facebook Messenger, Instagram and WhatsApp.

The company started facing issues starting at around noon ET, but as of 11 p.m., it hadn’t yet tweeted a message saying the issue was resolved.

Facebook said the issue was not related to a distributed denial-of-service (DDos) attack, which aim to take down sites by flooding servers with traffic.

READ MORE: Facebook facing record-breaking fine over privacy violations: report (Jan. 18)

Earlier this year, reports suggested that Facebook could be hit with the biggest fine ever handed down by the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) after it was revealed that Cambridge Analytica had mined the information of up to 87 million users without their consent.

That penalty could beat the $22.5-million fine that Google took after the search giant had bypassed privacy measures in the Safari browser.

— With files from Kerri Breen


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