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Did Facebook Grant Netflix Access To DMs?

Did Facebook grant Netflix access to DMs?

Recently unsealed court documents allege that Meta granted Netflix access to private DMs on its Facebook platform over a period of a decade.

If found to be the case, it could potentially be a significant breach of anti-competitive practices and privacy rules.

The documents are part of a major anti-trust lawsuit filed by US citizens Maximilian Klein and Sarah Grabert, who claim Netflix and Facebook “enjoyed a special relationship” so that Netflix could better tailor its ads with Facebook.

Lawyers allege that within a month of Netflix co-founder Reed Hastings joining Facebook’s board of directors in 2011, the two companies signed an ‘Inbox API’ (Application Programming Interface) agreement that ‘allowed Netflix programmatic access to Facebook’s user’s private message inboxes.’

In exchange, Netflix would then provide a report to Facebook every fortnight that showed how its own users interacted with the platform.

Did Facebook grant Netflix access to DMs?

“For nearly a decade, Netflix and Facebook enjoyed a special relationship. Netflix bought hundreds of millions of dollars in Facebook ads; entered into a series of agreements sharing data with Facebook; received bespoke access to private Facebook APIs; and agreed to custom partnerships and integrations that helped supercharge Facebook’s ad targeting and ranking models,” the lawsuit states.

By 2019, Netflix is reported to have spent upwards of US$150 million on Facebook advertisements annually.

The claims in the lawsuit were further amplified as X owner, Elon Musk, replied to a snapshot of the allegations on X with a single word: “Wow.”

Meta’s communication director, Andy Stone, also took to X to dispute the latest allegations. He said, “Shockingly untrue. Meta didn’t share people’s private messages with Netflix. The agreement allowed people to message their friends on Facebook about what they were watching on Netflix, directly from the Netflix app. Such agreements are commonplace in the industry.”

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