Facebook may have to go back to D.C. for yet another grilling in front of the Senate Commerce Committee. Just weeks after an obviously uncomfortable confrontation between elected officials and Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, the CEO is being tasked with responding to reports of user date being shared with “at least 60 device manufacturers” according to Reuters. Again, this is not that long after Zuckerberg promised his company would change many of the business practices that angered users and caused some people to leave the social network altogether.
The problem then, was Cambridge Analytica gaining access to the data of millions of users. That enraged Facebook users, who demanded changes that resulted in Zuckerberg appearing before congress. Now, according to reports in the NY Times, as well as messages from ranking Senators on the Committee, Facebook has given access to other businesses, companies that, according to the report, were “able to access friend’s date even after the friends denied permission to share” such information.
The message from the Senators tacitly invited Zuckerberg to “revise” his testimony that he offered back in April. There was also mention that Zuckerberg’s team has yet to answer hundreds of questions the company said it would address. But Facebook is not the only brand that could face consumer PR backlash over this revelation. Other companies accused of using the data include Apple, Amazon, Blackberry, UTC, Samsung, and Microsoft.
Given the trust issues many Facebook users already had, when they learn the issue was much more widespread than just one political company, and that Facebook knew this, there could be yet another wave of people leaving the social network or taking a break from their daily routine of scrolling timelines. Meanwhile, the companies being accused of taking user data without permission could be seen as complicit in what is becoming one of the largest consumer PR scandals in recent memory.
While it’s true that many Facebook users are nonplussed by the previous revelations, that may change when people begin hearing just how common and widespread the “friends” data “sharing” activities were.
The latest reports excoriate Facebook for allowing “deep access” to user accounts and data, including the data of friends who had set stricter privacy protections. This happened, according to the reports, after Facebook said the company would no longer share such information with outside companies. At present, the story is developing, and the investigation is ongoing. But one thing is certain, consumer trust for Facebook will not be bolstered by these revelations, any attempts to repair that breach by the company will be met with distrust.