Meta accused of allowing Netflix to access Facebook users’ private messages

Meta, formerly known as Facebook, has been accused of allowing Netflix to access private messages of Facebook users, as revealed in court documents unsealed last month.

The lawsuit, filed by Maximilian Klein and Sarah Grabert against Meta in April last year, alleges that this practice has been ongoing "for nearly a decade," with Netflix using this access to personalize content for its users.

The class action lawsuit claims that there exists a "special relationship" between Netflix and Facebook, granting Netflix "bespoke access" to user data through an "Inbox API." An API, or application programming interface, facilitates communication between different computer programs or components.

The plaintiffs also argue that Facebook reduced spending on original programming for its Facebook Watch video service to avoid competing with Netflix, one of its major advertisers.

These allegations gained traction on social media, particularly after Elon Musk, the owner of X, highlighted multiple posts on the issue.

Meta's Communications Director Andy Stone has vehemently denied these allegations, calling them "shockingly untrue" and refuting claims that Meta shared users’ private messages with Netflix. He clarified that the agreement between the two companies merely allowed users to message friends on Facebook about their Netflix activity directly from the Netflix app, a common industry practice.

This isn't the first time Facebook's parent company has faced such accusations. In 2018, The New York Times reported that Netflix and Spotify had access to users’ private messages. Meta has also disputed these claims, stating in a blog post titled "Facts About Facebook’s Messaging Partnerships" that the companies had access to APIs enabling users to share content directly from their apps.

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