A vast new trove of leaked documents, including internal emails and private messages between top leadership, show that when Facebook placed restrictions on user data starting in 2014, the priority was not to enhance privacy, as it has claimed. Instead, the restrictions were used primarily as a form of leverage used against apps that depended on the platform. The documents also seriously undermine Facebook’s repeated claims that it “never sold user data,” which the company has repeated often since revelations about the misuse of Facebook data during the 2016 U.S. Presidential election.
The leaked documents show, according to an analysis by NBC News, that Facebook was not only willing to trade user data for business advantages, but that directly selling data was discussed by leaders in great depth over the course of years. The documents, obtained by media outlets via a leak, originated from a court case between Facebook and a startup called Six4Three, which sued after Facebook cut off its access to user data.