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23 Feb, 2019 11:26

Facebook execs planned to snoop on Android users to increase revenues, leaked emails show

Facebook execs planned to snoop on Android users to increase revenues, leaked emails show

Facebook enabled its Android app to track and collect data from unwitting customers in order to increase advertising revenue, according to a cache of confidential internal emails that were leaked online.

Some 60 pages of documents – including emails between Facebook executives – were posted anonymously on Github on Friday. The files were taken from a lawsuit between Facebook and Six4Three, an app developer, with most of them never having been published in fully unredacted form until now.

One email exchange from 2012 details plans by Facebook to use its Android app to track the location of its customers and pass data on single Facebook users to dating sites. The company also discussed providing data to organizations that wanted to target users with political ads – a business strategy that has led to scandal in the wake of alleged disinformation campaigns operating on the platform.

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A top executive described the initiative as a “policy relaxation” designed to boost Facebook’s revenues.

“This is a big win for the dating vertical specifically, but also supports our efforts to examine ‘good’ revenue opportunities resulting from policy relaxation/changes,” Marne Lynn Levine, then vice president of global public policy, wrote in support of the company’s plans.

In another message, Levine gloats about a meeting between General Martin Dempsey, then chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, and Sheryl Sandberg, noting that Dempsey and his wife are “both active Facebook users.”

The leaked documents also include a memo about a meeting between Facebook and the head of California’s eCrime unit to discuss then-California attorney general Kamala Harris’s office of privacy protection. Harris, now serving in the US Senate, announced her candidacy for president in January.

The Facebook representatives were told that Harris views the company “as a good actor” and that the privacy office “will keep communications with us open (we will not unknowingly be the subject of an investigation).”

Last year, it was revealed that the company had allowed Cambridge Analytica to harvest the personal data of millions of people’s profiles without their consent, using it for political ad targeting.

Also on rt.com Surveillance Guinea pigs? Facebook paying teens $20/month for unfettered access to mobile data

Since then, Facebook has been embroiled in a seemingly endless list of scandals. CNBC reported last week that the company tracks ex-employees whom it considers “threats.”

A majority of Americans now believe their personal data is unsafe with Facebook. Six in 10 Americans also think the government should increase regulations on social media, and that tech companies need to be more transparent about how they use their customers’ data.

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