Meta (again) denies that Netflix reads users' private Facebook messages

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Meta is denying that it gave Netflix access to users' private messages. Claim started recently moving on x After the rise of X owner Elon Musk multiple positions about the matter by replyingVery good” And “Yes, The claim references a court filing that emerged as part of the discovery process in a class-action lawsuit over data privacy practices between a group of consumers and Facebook's parent, Meta.

The document alleges that there was a “special relationship” between Netflix and Facebook and that Facebook also cut spending on original programming for its Facebook Watch video service so that Netflix, a large Facebook advertiser, could not compete. It also said that Netflix had access to Meta's “Inbox API” that offered the streamer “programmatic access to Facebook users' private message inboxes.”

This is part of the claim Musk responded to in a post on X, sparking a raft of angry replies about how Facebook user data was for sale.

Meta, for its part, is denying the accuracy of the document's claims.

Meta's communications director, Andy Stone, Reposted the original x post In a statement Tuesday, it disputed that Netflix was granted access to users' private messages.

“Shocking lie,” Stone wrote on X. “Meta did not share people's private messages with Netflix. The agreement allowed people to message their friends on Facebook directly from the Netflix app to tell them what they were watching on Netflix. Such agreements are industry-wide. are common.

In other words, Meta is claiming that Netflix had programmatic access to users' inboxes, but did not use that access to read private messages.

Aside from Stone's ex-post, Meta has not provided any further comment.

However, The New York Times previously reported in 2018 that Netflix and Spotify could read users' private messages, according to documents it obtained. Meta refuted those claims at the time through a blog post titled “The Facts About Facebook's Messaging Partnership”, where it reported that Netflix and Spotify had access to APIs that would allow consumers to send messages to friends. Whether it was what they were listening to on Spotify or watching live on Netflix. Related apps of those companies. This requires companies to have “write access” to write messages to friends, “read access” to allow users to read back messages from friends, and “delete access” to allow users to send messages to friends, which means if you If you delete a message from the third party app, it will also delete the message from Facebook.

“No third parties were reading your private messages, or writing messages to your friends, without your permission. “Many news reports have implied that we were sending private messages to partners, which is not true,” the blog post said.

In any case, Messenger did not implement default end-to-end encryption until December 2023, a practice that would have made these types of claims a non-starter, as it would have left no room for doubt. The lack of encrypted communications with read/write access to the message inbox meant there was no guarantee that messages were secure, even if that was not the focus of the business arrangement.

While Stone is downplaying Netflix's ability to spy on private messages, it's worth noting that the streamer was granted a level of access that other companies didn't have.

The document claims that Netflix had access to Facebook's “Titan API”, a private API that allowed it to integrate with Facebook's messaging app. In exchange for Inbox API access, Netflix also agreed to provide the social networking company with “a written report every two weeks” containing information about its recommendation sendings and recipient clicks and to keep its API agreement confidential. Expressed agreement.

The document states that by 2015, Netflix was spending $40 million on Facebook ads, and that Netflix was allowing user data to be used for Facebook ad targeting and optimization. In 2017, Netflix agreed to spend $150 million on Facebook ads and provide “cross-device intent signals” to the company.

Netflix and Facebook maintained a close relationship, with then-Netflix CEO Reed Hastings (and Facebook board member until April 2019) meeting with Facebook (Meta) executives, including CEO Mark Zuckerberg, COO Sheryl Sandberg, comms VP Elliot Schrage, and CTO Andrew Bosworth. Had direct communication with. ,

To maintain Netflix's advertising business, Zuckerberg himself emailed Facebook Watch head Fidji Simo in May 2018, informing him that Watch's budget for originals and games was being cut by $750 million because the social network would be part of Netflix. With is out of direct competition. Facebook has been building a Watch business for two years and introduced the Watch tab in the US in August 2017.

Elsewhere in the filing, Meta details how it secretly spied on Snapchat traffic, among other things.