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Numerous third-party data agreements described in the Times article appeared to have been relatively unused or dormant, and the news organization didn't identify examples of Facebook's partners siphoning mass amounts of information about Facebook users or otherwise abusing their access.

'Facebook's partners don't get to ignore people's privacy settings, and it's wrong to suggest that they do, ' said Steve Satterfield, director of privacy and public policy at Facebook.

According to a scorching report in the New York Times, the social network gave business partners plenty of access to the data of its billions of users. We've taken a number of steps this year to limit developers' access to people's Facebook information, and as part of that ongoing effort, we're in the midst of reviewing all our APIs and the partners who can access them.

Other companies mentioned in the Times' report denied using their partnership with Facebook to violate users' privacy. Microsoft's Bing could also view almost all users' friends, Amazon could glean contact information from them, and Yahoo had access to their posting streams. As of 2017, more than 150 companies enjoyed this kind of no-questions-asked access under bilateral deals with Facebook which effectively allowed to firms to bypass the service's updated privacy rules. According to the company, the deals did not violate Facebook's 2011 settlement with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), in which the company agreed not to share users' data without their explicit permission. Microsoft had a similar deal for Bing, where it could "see the names of virtually all Facebook users' friends without consent". Amazon told CNN that its partnership is purely to ensure a smooth Facebook experience on its products, such as the Fire Tablet, and it "uses the information in accordance with its own privacy policy". Facebook has been battered in the markets this year as the data privacy scandal unfolded.

Warner, the top Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee that heard testimony from Facebook Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg in September, has previously put forth several potential measures for regulating tech companies. RBC says they used Facebook's messenger platform data to develop a tool to make e-transfers on Messenger.

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More specifically, on the list of most trending "Musicians and Bands", Lovato is No. 1 on both the United States and global chart. Meghan Markle was also the most searched for person of the year internationally, followed closely by Demi Lovato .

The NYT report also sheds light on how Facebook shared data with over 60 manufacturers of mobile devices, with Apple being one of the most notable examples.

Papamiltiadis said that "we've been public about these features and partnerships over the years because we wanted people to actually use them. We are committed to the privacy of our readers and protection of their personal data", a spokesperson said.

Facebook has already been called before lawmakers in the United States and elsewhere to defend its data policies since news broke this year on the misuse of personal data in 2016 by Cambridge Analytica, a British consultancy working on Donald Trump's campaign.

He said: "We have to seriously challenge the claim by Facebook that they are not selling user data".