Facebook’s Cambridge Analytica scandal made headlines around the world after it was revealed that the data of 87 Facebook users was sold and used for dubious political purposes. However, recent reports of the social media giant’s agreements with other corporations suggest that the Cambridge Analytica scandal wasn’t an outlier.
Facebook has data-sharing agreements with at least 60 electronics manufacturers, including Amazon, Apple, BlackBerry and Samsung. But it’s the company ties to at least four Chinese manufacturers that are the most concerning.
Facebook admitted on June 5 that it allowed Huawei, a Chinese telecommunications company closely connected to China’s communist government, to have special access to Facebook users’ personal information collected from the social media site.
Facebook’s arrangements with Huawei allowed the company to retrieve detailed information about users, including work and education history, relationship status, likes, and interests, as well as the data of all the targeted users’ friends. In some cases, companies may even harvest the personal data of friends of friends.
Alarmingly, Huawei has been flagged by American intelligence officials as a national security threat, and Facebook has no control over what Huawei is doing with all the user data it has collected for years. Some of Facebook’s agreements with Chinese companies date to at least 2010. Other Chinese firms that have data-sharing arrangements with Facebook are Lenovo, Oppo, and TCL.
According to The New York Times, Huawei received billions of dollars in lines of credit from China’s massive state-owned policy banks, which helps it expand its presence worldwide, establishing strong Chinese government footholds in Africa, Europe, and Latin America.
U.S. officials also warn that Huawei’s devices and those made by other Chinese tech companies could be used for spying on American citizens, sending your personal information to Beijing, according to the The Washington Post.
Facebook indicated to U.S. officials that more data scandals like Cambridge Analytica could surface. In April, the social media company told the Securities and Exchange Commission that it expected to find more massive cases of data misuse. Up until recently, however, Facebook’s efforts to reign in potential data misuse has been focused on app developers instead of device makers and other tech companies.