Facebook entered into so-called whitelist agreements with companies, granting them access to users' data - even after they made policy changes that restricted access for others, according to The New York Times.
The British Parliament has released some 250 pages worth of documents that show Facebook considered charging developers for data access.
Mr Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook's chief executive, and Ms Sheryl Sandberg, the chief operating officer, were intimately involved in decisions aimed at benefiting the social network above all else and keeping users as engaged as possible on the site, according to e-mails that were part of the document trove.
Vine wanted to use Facebook's user data to suggest friends on the service, but after a Facebook executive asked CEO Mark Zuckerberg via email if he could shut this feature down, Zuckerberg replied, "Yup, go for it".
Committee chair Damian Collins said it was not clear from the private exchanges between Facebook and app developers whether users were aware that their friends list and other private information was being used. "We explored multiple ways to build a sustainable business with developers who were building apps that were useful to people", the company said in a statement.
"This specific feature allows people to opt in to giving Facebook access to their call and text messaging logs in Facebook Lite and Messenger on Android devices", Facebook said in its statement. These were sealed by the courts, but United Kingdom authorities seized them from the plaintiff in that lawsuit while he was in London as part of their investigation into Facebook's practices and handling of user data.
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"We don't feel we have had straight answers from Facebook on these important issues, which is why we are releasing the documents", Collins said on Twitter. The documents outline various discussion within the company regarding monetizing user data particularly surrounding the 3.0 platform changes in 2015. The good news about full reciprocity [where apps let users share their activity back to Facebook] is that for bigger social companies we might otherwise be anxious about, if they're enabling their users to push all of their social content back into Facebook then we're probably fine with them. The app also sent valuable data on what types of apps people were downloading back to Facebook.
The documents were brought to light by United States software company Six4Three, which were gathered as part of a legal case against the social network. They used this to find out how many people had downloaded apps and how often they used them.
But by selectively "whitelisting" certain companies and apps in this policy change, the company was able to protect those apps that brought something to the Facebook platform - such as Airbnb and Netflix - while, it's argued, simultaneously blocking out any potential threats, such as the aforementioned Vine. "We still stand by the platform changes we made in 2014/2015, which prevented people from sharing their friends' information with developers like the creators of Pikinis", the company says in the post.
Another potentially concerning revelation from the papers has to do with Facebook's acquisition of the now-mammoth chat app, WhatsApp.
Kramer was ordered by a judge on Friday to surrender his laptop to a forensic expert after admitting he turned over the documents to the British lawmakers, in violation of a USA court order.