Facebook began cutting off access to user data for app developers from 2012 to squash potential rivals while presenting the move to the general public as a boon for user privacy, according to court documents reviewed by Reuters. Some executives at the world’s biggest social network appeared to refer to the strategy of promoting a privacy-focused explanation for the change as the “Switcharoo Plan,” internal emails included in sealed California court filings show. The emergence of nearly 7,000 pages of company emails and executive documents comes as Facebook faces multiple investigations into possible antitrust violations by regulators around the world.
In April, it was reported that Facebook’s executive team misused user data to control competitors by using the data as a bargaining chip. This was apparently done under the supervision of the company CEO Mark Zuckerberg, and there are thousands of leaked documents to support this claim. A news agency has published an entire lot of documents that comprise 7,000 pages including 4,000 internal communications such as emails, web chats, notes, presentations, spreadsheets on Facebook. From the total, around 1,200 of them were “highly confidential”. All of these documents range between 2011 and 2015. The PDFs of leaked documents include depositions, emails, presentations, and other pages from Six4Three’s lawsuit.
According to the documents, Facebook gave Amazon extended access to user data as it was spending a large amount of money on Facebook advertising and partnering with Facebook when launching its Fire smartphone. The documents also highlighted that when a messaging app became popular and threatened Facebook’s own messenger app, the social media giant discussed cutting off the app’s access to user data. When Facebook took away access to detailed information with the startup, Six4Three claimed that it couldn’t do business anymore. Other apps including Lulu, Beehive ID, and Rosa Bandet also suffered the same fate after losing access. The leaked documents basically show that for Facebook, privacy seems to be more of a public relations ploy than a concern about its users.