Facebook wielded user data to reward, punish rivals, emails show

Published emails show Facebook treated user information as a commodity that could be used to benefit its business goals.

Facebook Inc. wielded user data like a bargaining chip, providing access when that sharing might encourage people to spend more time on the social network — and imposing strict limits on partners in cases where it saw a potential competitive threat, emails show.

A trove of internal correspondence, published online Wednesday by U.K. lawmakers, provide insight into the ways Facebook executives including Chief Executive Officer Mark Zuckerberg treated information posted by users like a commodity that could be harnessed in service of business goals.

In early 2013, Twitter Inc. launched the Vine video-sharing service, which drew on a Facebook tool that let Vine users connect to their Facebook friends. Alerted to the possible competitive threat by an engineer who recommended cutting off Vine’s access to Facebook data, Zuckerberg replied succinctly: “Yup, go for it.”

 

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