Meta has denied giving Netflix access to its private messages

April 5, 2024 Posted by Liam Walsh Round-Up 0 thoughts on “Meta has denied giving Netflix access to its private messages”
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Liam Walsh

Liam is a Co-Director at Intelligency and heads up the agency's Digital Intelligence & Paid Social activity. Over the last decade, he has worked with brands from the world of sports such as Premier League clubs to entertainment such as Channel 4 and Disney.

Meta has issued a denial that they have been providing Netflix with their users’ private messages. The claim has grown in notoriety over the last month, with Elon Musk claiming that this was true through posts on X, formerly Twitter. The accusation stems from a court filing within a class action lawsuit that Facebook is currently facing with regard to data privacy. 

What does the document claim?

The court filing alleged that Meta and Netflix had a unique relationship, with Facebook, a subsidiary of Meta, even reducing their budgets for Facebook original programming so they didn’t compete with Netflix – who were a large advertiser on the social networking site. In 2017, it was reported that Netflix was spending $150 million on Facebook ads. However, most problematically, it claims that Netflix was granted special access to Meta’s Inbox API which allowed the streamer “programmatic access” to Facebook user’s private messages. This has understandably led many to criticize Meta for illegally sharing their data with another company.

How has Meta responded to this?

Meta has denied the report’s accuracy with Andy Stone, Meta’s Communications Director pushing back by claiming Musk’s statement was “shockingly untrue”. Instead, he countered by stating that the Netflix agreement allowed users to private message friends about Netflix suggestions directly from their app and share this across Facebook. This is a standard practice across the media industry. In essence, he claimed that Netflix had access via a plugin, rather than being able to read individual messages.

Is this the first time Meta has been accused of selling data?

Unfortunately for Meta, this isn’t the first time they have been accused of data breaches. A New York Times article in 2018 stated that Netflix and Spotify could access private messages based on documents they had received. The blog post explained that the Facebook API was accessible for Netflix and Spotify, meaning they could see conversations about what people were watching or listening to. 

Whilst Stone denied that Netflix was snooping, it is worth noting that the company was granted privileges other brands were not. Indeed, the report claims that Netflix had access to the Titan API and conversely shared a bi-monthly report to Meta about user engagement.

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