Facebook platform users hit Twitter with #facebookdown Wednesday, after losing access to Facebook, Instagram and Messenger across the world.
Wochit, USA TODAY
Facebook faces a federal criminal investigation into consumer data sharing deals it made with scores of other technology companies including Amazon, Apple, Microsoft and Samsung, according to The New York Times.
At least two major companies that make smartphones and other devices have been subpoenaed by a grand jury in New York seeking records from the firms, the Times reported, citing two people familiar with the situation.
The two unnamed companies were among more than 150 companies that had sharing deals with Facebook, reported by the Times in December 2019. Those deals gave companies greater access to its users’ data, sometimes without the user’s permission, according to the Times. Examples of the data sharing included letting Netflix and Spotify read a user’s private messages and allowing Amazon to gather names and contact information.
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An earlier report from the Times in June 2018 – denied by Facebook – charged that the social network had allowed companies such as Apple and Samsung access to users’ friends without explicit consent.
Facebook issued a statement on Twitter late Wednesday acknowledging it has been cooperating with “ongoing federal investigations,” including those by the Justice Department. “We’ve provided public testimony, answered questions, and pledged that we’ll continue to do so.”
The focus of the grand jury, conducted by the U.S. Attorney’s office for the Eastern District of New York, is not known, according to the Times.
Facebook already is being investigated by several federal agencies including the Securities and Exchange Commission about U.K.-based Cambridge Analytica’s improper acquisition and possible misuse of personal data of as many as 87 million users.
The Federal Trade Commission is also investigating whether that scandal resulted in Facebook violating a 2011 consent decree reached with the FTC barring the social networking giant from misrepresenting the privacy or security protections of consumers’ personal information and required it to ask users before any changes that overrode privacy preferences.
The Cambridge Analytica scandal has also attracted the attention of the Justice Department, including special counsel Robert Mueller’s charging 13 Russians and three companies in February 2018 with using social media and other efforts to subvert the 2016 presidential election.
Neither the Justice Department nor the Eastern District would comment on the report to the Times.
Facebook has attempted to weather the growing concerns about privacy on its platform and social media. Last week, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced a multiyear plan to increase privacy on the social network, as well as its Instagram and WhatsApp platforms.
Then on Wednesday, Facebook suffered its largest-ever outage, as the social network and Instagram went down for most of the day across the globe.
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Follow USA TODAY reporter Mike Snider on Twitter: @MikeSnider.
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