Secret Facebook documents made public by Parliament Committee

Secret Facebook documents made public by Parliament Committee

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg

Wednesday, December 5, 2018

The Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee has published 234 pages of unseen documents, which it obtained in November this year from a company suing the social network.

The redacted version of the papers was published as part of an investigation into Facebook’s activities for an inquiry into fake news.

Six4Three obtained the internal Facebook emails through legal mechanisms in the US, where the company is involved in court action against the social media network.

Sharing the document link on social media, the Chair of the committee Damian Collins wrote: "I believe there is considerable public interest in releasing these documents. They raise important questions about how Facebook treats users data, their policies for working with app developers, and how they exercise their dominant position in the social media market.

"We don’t feel we have had straight answers from Facebook on these important issues, which is why we are releasing the documents.

"We need a more public debate about the rights of social media users and the smaller businesses who are required to work with the tech giants. I hope that our committee investigation can stand up for them."


'To collect a record of calls' 

The documents allegedly show that Facebook used an app upgrade to collect the calls and texts of Android users.

Writing in his notes, which have also been made public, Collins said: “Facebook knew that the changes to its policies on the Android mobile phone system, which enabled the Facebook to collect a record of calls and texts sent by the user would be controversial.

“To mitigate any bad PR, Facebook planned to make it as hard of possible for users to know that this was one of the underlying features of the upgrade of their app.”

Collins also describes Facebook's attitude towards other apps as "aggresive", as the social media company used an analytics company Onavo to conduct surveys of customers about their app usage without their knowledge. 

"Facebook used Onavo to conduct global surveys of the usage of mobile apps by customers, and apparently without their knowledge," he said. 

"They used this data to assess not just how many people had downloaded apps, but how often they used them. This knowledge helped them to decide which companies to acquire, and which to treat as a threat."

He added: "The files show evidence of Facebook taking aggressive positions against apps."

A protester wearing a model head of Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg outside Portcullis House after the CEO failed to attend. 

Last month, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg received criticism after failing to attend the inquiry, instead choosing to send the Vice-President of Policy Solutions, Richard Allan.

The committee of disinformation was attended by politicians from eight countries, including Canada, France, Singapore and Brazil.

The Facebook boss has previously been questioned by the US Congress and European Parliament over the social media platform’s alleged connections to the Cambridge Analytica scandal.