Facebook faces criminal investigation over controversial data sharing deals

Facebook faces criminal investigation over controversial data sharing deals

U.S. government prosecutors are looking into how Facebook shared personal information from hundreds of millions of its users with more than 150 firms, including Amazon, Apple, Microsoft and Sony, sometimes without their consent.

"We are cooperating with investigators and take those probes seriously", a Facebook spokesman said in a statement, adding, "We've provided public testimony, answered questions and pledged that we will continue to do so".

According to the Times, Facebook's deals with more than 150 different companies let them "see users' friends, contact information and other data, sometimes without consent".

The Times' report was released on Wednesday evening, while Facebook was dealing with a major outage.

The company has been juggling a number of scandals and investigations since the Cambridge Analytica revelations almost a year ago.

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A lawsuit pile-up: It's yet another launch of legal proceedings against Facebook, which is now facing probes by the Federal Trade Commission and the Securities and Exchange Commission. At the time, the company strongly disputed that these data partnerships violated users' privacy or the company's 2012 settlement with the FTC.

It wasn't immediately clear what the grand jury was focused on or when its investigation began.

News of the controversial agreements emerged in June when the Times reported that Facebook had agreed to provide access to large amounts of user data to at least 60 different device makers - including companies like Apple, Microsoft, Samsung and BlackBerry. Facebook did not respond to questions about the focus or nature of the investigation.

Facebook has allegedly ended most of the partnerships over the past two years.

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