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Feds Investigating Data Deals Facebook Struck With Big Tech Firms

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Federal prosecutors are investigating partnership deals Facebook forged with some of the world’s largest technological companies.

A grand jury subpoenaed records from two smartphone developers, The New York Times reported Wednesday, citing two anonymous sources familiar with the matter. Both companies entered into large and complex data deals with Facebook, allowing all the firms involved in the partnership to collect vast troves of information on millions of users.

The agreements allowed companies such as Amazon, Apple and Microsoft, among others, to see users’ friends and contact information, often without consent. 

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“We are cooperating with investigators and take those probes seriously,” a Facebook spokesman told TheNYT in a press statement. “We’ve provided public testimony, answered questions and pledged that we will continue to do so.”

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg created the partnerships to stave off obsolescence and insulate the massive company from competition. Every corporate partner helped drive the platform’s expansion and yoke people deeper into Facebook’s universe while growing advertisement. News of the subpoena comes at a bad moment for Facebook.

The report comes as the Federal Trade Commission and the Securities and Exchange Commission continue scrutinizing Facebook’s business model. The Department of Justice began probing the Silicon Valley company after a report showed Cambridge Analytica, a political consulting firm, used the platform to improperly obtained data on 87 million people to help President Donald Trump’s campaign.

Facebook used contact lists from the partners, including Chinese company Huawei, which American officials consider a security threat because of its connections to China, to gain deeper insight into people’s relationships. House lawmakers grilled Zuckerberg in April 2018 about the company’s data mining capabilities.

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