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Facebook reveals list of 61 businesses it exempted from data protection rules

Nike and Spotify are two of the 61 businesses that were given a special exemption by Facebook to access user data, following greater restrictions that were introduced in 2014.

The new app review policy was introduced in April 2014, after which date firms were given a year to adhere to the new rules.

In written responses to the US Congress on its operations, Facebook has named 61 firms that were given extensions beyond the original cut-off point.

60 apps were offered six-month extensions, while accessibility app Serotek received an eight-month extension.

The revelations contrast with previous statements from the social media giant that the function which allowed such detailed access had been shut down in 2014.

Facebook has been under intense scrutiny following the Cambridge Analytica data scandal for which CEO Mark Zuckerberg personally apologised

The social network has since been pressured to release more details on its business practices.

The updated app review policy clamped down on data access and made developers submit justifications to Facebook for collecting more than “certain basic user information” and saying how they were going to use it.

Facebook said that between April 2014 and April 2018 it had rejected more than half the apps submitted for review under its new policy.

In a separate disclosure, the social network also revealed it had granted special privileges to 52 other hardware and software firms to integrate “Facebook and Facebook features” into devices and services, which also involved access to some basic user data.

Apple, Amazon and Chinese smartphone giant Huawei were among the companies on that list, which gave them permission to build versions of Facebook on their devices and products.

However, Facebook said the nature of that work limited the firms to building just Facebook-approved products and the integrations had all been approved by its engineering teams, with 38 of the 52 having already been discontinued.

“The purpose of these partnerships was to build Facebook and Facebook features into the partners’ devices and other products,” said a Facebook spokeswoman.

“People were only able to access these experiences - and the information needed to support them - when they logged in or connected their Facebook account.

“In April, we publicly announced that we’d start shutting down these APIs (application programming interface) - and we continue to make other changes that restrict the information people can share to better protect their privacy.”

It was also announced yesterday that Facebook has purchased the London-based Bloomsbury AI which has built natural language processing (NLP) technology to help machines answer questions based on information gleaned from documents.

Facebook reportedly wants to deploy the company’s team and tech to work on combating fake news and to tackle other content issues.

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