Lawsuit: Facebook gave Netflix all your private messages and Netflix gave Facebook your watch history ๐Ÿ‘€
ยท Apr 2, 2024 ยท

I feel bad for that one guy out there who is surprised by this.

Facebook gave Netflix all your private messages on Messenger in exchange for all your watch history, while Netflix paid them $100M+ for ads.

That's according to "court documents unsealed on March 23 that were filed last April as part of a major anti-trust lawsuit against Meta." The suit was brought by two U.S. citizens; in it, they allege that shortly after Netflix co-founder and executive chairman Reed Hastings joined Facebook's board of directors, the two companies struck a lucrative and secretive agreement (citations omitted):

Within a month, Netflix had announced a Facebook integration to share Netflix user data internationally, and began lobbying Congress to allow this sort of data-sharing in the United States. By 2013, Netflix had begun entering into a series of "Facebook Extended API" agreements, including a so-called "Inbox API" agreement that allowed Netflix programmatic access to Facebook's user's private message inboxes, in exchange for which Netflix would "provide to FB a written report every two weeks that shows daily counts of recommendation sends and recipient clicks by interface, initiation surface, and/or implementation variant (e.g., Facebook vs. non-Facebook recommendation recipients)."

API is an "application programming interface." It allows two or more distinct digital programs or platforms to communicate with each other.

Facebook's and Netflix's API agreement allowed the companies to access very personal information from the other's respective platform:

In August 2013, Facebook provided Netflix with access to its so-called "Titan API," a private API that allowed a whitelisted partner to access, among other things, Facebook user's "messaging app and non-app friends." Once again, this access required that data be shared back to Facebook โ€” and every Extended API agreement was to be kept confidential, including "the existence and content of the Extended APIs."

So Netflix reportedly gave Facebook everything you watch, and Facebook gave Netflix your entire friends' list and what you were saying to them.

The high-dollar deal continued: By early 2015, "Netflix was spending $40 million per year on Facebook advertising, and had entered into an agreement allowing Netflix user data to be used for 'targeting/optimization' in Facebook's ads systems," according to the suit.

It's worth pointing out that Facebook has historically not been the most, ah, protective of its users' private data:

Facebook itself was allegedly so desperate to keep the Netflix money train going that it allegedly scuttled its in-house streaming platform in order to make that happen:

[A]fter Facebook's direct competition with Netflix through its newly launched video streaming product Watch threatened Facebook's special relationship with one of its most important advertisers and signal sources, Facebook agreed โ€” apparently at the apex level โ€” to withdraw from Netflix's streaming market in exchange for Netflix's agreement to continue to purchase large quantities of Facebook advertising and provide Facebook with continued and expanded access to its proprietary signals.

Meta killing its own video service to please Netflix like:

I'm rooting for injuries in this fight.

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