Facebook admitted sharing users' data with Chinese company Huawei - facing the heat in the USA over data privacy concerns - along with three other China-based smartphone makers Lenovo, OPPO and TCL.
The Facebook administration has provided information about its users to a number of companies since 2015, despite the social network saying that it had stopped doing so, the Wall Street Journal reports.
Disclosure of the deals punctures a hole in the picture Facebook has tried to paint as a suddenly user-friendly, privacy-minded company after 2014-not that anyone was buying that image anyway. The information handed over to companies included details like phone numbers and a metric called "friend link" that determined how much communication and connectivity there was between users and their friends.
He acknowledged that a subset of companies were given extensions beyond May 2015.
One source said to be a former Facebook employee claimed, "Ninety-nine percent of developers were treated the same, but 1% got special treatment because they accounted for all the value of the platform".
It's unclear how many companies were allowed this special access or how long it lasted. Facebook gave select "whitelisted" companies extensions before they were also blocked from getting its users' personal information.
Per the Journal, Facebook internally called the deals "whitelists", which may be a little bit of insight into how the company viewed the arrangements.
Facebook is facing intense scrutiny for misuse of millions of its users' data after the British political consultancy firm Cambridge Analytica data leak scandal became public. The move coaxed more people to join Facebook and spend more time there, fueling the rapid rise of the social network from 58 million users to more than 2 billion.
Facebook, in a blog post, pushed back on the Times' reporting, saying the agreements prevented user data from being used other than "to recreate Facebook-like experiences" in the devices.