FACEBOOK came under fire for spying on people’s calls, texts and use of apps, as 250 pages of secret emails were released by a Commons committee.
The tech giant knew keeping records of activity on Android phones would be controversial, so made it as ‘difficult as possible’ for users to find out, the MPs said last night.
The email cache — seized under rarely used powers — also reveals founder Mark Zuckerberg (pictured below) discussed selling users’ data.
And there is evidence about how companies were allowed to obtain details of the friends of users who signed up for their apps. Facebook vowed in 2015 to stop offering access to friends without their consent.
But the emails back up previous claims that bosses kept on giving some companies access. Airbnb and Netflix are among apps said to have been ‘whitelisted’. The privilege could be offered to reward advertisers or maintain the value of apps Facebook wanted to buy, the MPs say.
Damian Collins, chairman of the Commons digital, culture, media and sport select committee, said: ‘I believe there is considerable public interest in releasing these documents.
‘They raise important questions about how Facebook treats users’ data.’
The emails were originally disclosed to Six4Three, which built an app allowing users to trawl through friends’ photos for pictures of women in bikinis.
The company sued after the 2015 policy change rendered the app useless, and Facebook had to hand over the documents as part of court proceedings.
When the MPs heard an executive from Six4Three was in London, an official of parliament was sent to his hotel to demand that they be handed over.
In one email, fears are raised that harvesting phone-use data is ‘risky from a PR perspective’.
And Mr Zuckerberg suggests in a 2012 email that companies wanting access to data could buy adverts or pay a fee.
Facebook said it ‘stood by’ the 2015 policy change, adding: ‘Like any business, we had internal conversations about ways we could build a sustainable business model for our platform. But the facts are clear — we’ve never sold people’s data.’