The New York Times is reporting Facebook carved out exceptions to its data privacy rules for other Silicon Valley tech giants – even as it was promising its 2.2 billion users it was tightening its control on their data.
Microsoft got to see the names of virtually all Facebook users' friends without permission. Amazon got names and contact information, according to the Times. And Yahoo was allowed to access Facebook user's videos, while Netflix and Spotify bought access to users' private – or so they thought – messages: the actual texts.
Dan Gainor of MRC TechWatch says it's intrusion on an epic scale. "The New York Times is saying what happened is probably the worst violation of privacy in human history. Is it time for the government to get involved? Absolutely," he argues.
Conservative columnist Michelle Malkin noted Wednesday on Fox & Friends that Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and COO Cheryl Sullivan had both recently testified on Capitol Hill to how seriously the social giant takes user privacy.
"We just had all these Silicon Valley executives march up to Capitol Hill, talking out of both sides of their mouths that, of course, they protect user data. Well, let the user beware," she offered.
Abraham Hamilton III, senior counsel for American Family Association, says even small-government advocates like him see it is time to regulate.
"When you see this collaborative effort operating, what's the difference between them and the old Standard Oil of days gone by?" he asks. "What should prevent the same type of approach to these tech titans as those companies of days gone by?"
And he says there's a life lesson in here as well. "There's no such thing as free. You think you're signing up for Facebook and using it for free – no you're not. You are giving them your data."
And those ads that pop up? That, says Hamilton, "is your 'cost' of operating on these social media platforms."
Editor's Note: The American Family Association is the parent organization of the American Family News Network, which operates OneNewsNow.com.