Netflix Paid Facebook to Access Users' Private Messages

Court documents reveal Netflix paid Facebook $100 million to access users' private messages.

Netflix access Facebook users private message

In a stunning revelation, court documents shared by an X user named Deedy have shed light on a deal between streaming giant Netflix and social media behemoth Facebook.

According to the shared court documents, Facebook granted Netflix access to users' private messages in exchange for their watch history, with Netflix allegedly paying over $100 million for this privilege.

The saga began in 2011 when Netflix announced a Facebook integration to facilitate the sharing of user data on a global scale. The streaming platform even went as far as lobbying Congress to allow for such data sharing within the United States.

By 2013, Netflix had entered into a series of "Facebook Extended API" agreements, including an "Inbox API" agreement that granted Netflix programmatic access to Facebook users' private message inboxes.

In return, Netflix was required to provide Facebook with bi-weekly reports detailing daily counts of recommendation sends and recipient clicks, broken down by interface, initiation surface, and implementation variant.

The court documents also reveal that in August 2013, Facebook provided Netflix with access to its "Titan API," a private API that allowed whitelisted partners to access Facebook users' messaging apps and non-app friends, among other things. 

This close partnership between the two companies is said to have lasted for nearly a decade, with Netflix's then-CEO Reed Hastings sitting on Facebook's board from 2011 to 2019, personally directing the companies' relationship during this period.

This is not the first time Facebook has faced allegations of mishandling user data. In 2018, the Cambridge Analytica scandal revealed that the political consulting firm had harvested the personal data of millions of Facebook users without their consent. The scandal led to increased scrutiny of Facebook's data practices and calls for greater regulation of the tech industry.

More recently, in 2021, a whistleblower named Frances Haugen came forward with allegations that Facebook had repeatedly prioritized profit over user safety and privacy. Haugen's testimony before Congress and the release of internal documents, known as the "Facebook Papers," further damaged the company's reputation and led to renewed calls for reform.

As the partnership grew, so did Netflix's advertising spending on Facebook, reaching approximately $150 million annually by early 2019. This has raised questions about the nature of the relationship between the two tech giants and the potential misuse of user data.

The revelation has sparked outrage among privacy advocates and users alike, who are concerned about the handling of their personal information. Many are calling for stricter regulations on data sharing between companies and greater transparency in how user data is collected, shared, and used.

Both Netflix and Facebook have yet to comment on the allegations, but the court documents paint a picture of a deep and potentially troubling partnership. As the story continues to unfold, it is clear that the implications of this alleged data-sharing deal could have far-reaching consequences for both companies and the broader tech industry.

As users become increasingly aware of the value and vulnerability of their personal data, the demand for greater privacy protections and accountability from tech companies is likely to grow. The Netflix-Facebook case, along with the previous scandals involving Facebook, serves as a stark reminder of the need for robust data protection laws and the importance of holding corporations accountable for their handling of user information in the digital age.

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