Facebook, Inc. (NASDAQ: FB) on Tuesday morning, has confirmed that they have been sharing users’ personal data with Chinese phone company Huawei. This affirmation comes after U.S. Senator Mark Warner’s demands to know whether the social media platform had been sharing its users’ personal data with Chinese phone companies that people perceive to be a risk to national security. Facebook has also verified sharing data with other 3 other Chinese companies, computer maker Lenovo Group, and smartphone makers OPPO and TCL corp.
"Facebook along with many other U.S. tech companies have worked with them and other Chinese manufacturers to integrate their services onto these phones," Francisco Varela, vice president of mobile partnerships for Facebook, said in a statement. "Facebook's integrations with Huawei, Lenovo, OPPO and TCL were controlled from the get-go and we approved the Facebook experiences these companies built."
Despite sharing its users’ private data with Chinese phone companies, Facebook asserts that the data was not stored in Chinese servers and that the data had actually never left people’s phones.
The sparked interest in Facebook’s relations with Chinese phone companies comes after a Sunday report by the New York Times that detailed how Facebook has had partnerships with mobile device manufacturers for years, allowing the manufacturers to build software incorporating Facebook functionality. This software incorporated functions from other sources such as emails and other social networks, making it so that users would be able to receive all their messages and notifications in one location.
This also meant giving the third-party software that manufacturers incorporated for increased Facebook functionality access to the data of the phone’s owner as well as their contact, usually without revealing where the sensitive information was going.
A Huawei spokesperson released a statement claiming they have not collected or stored any Facebook user data. “Like all leading smartphone providers, Huawei has worked with Facebook to make Facebook’s services more convenient for users,” the Huawei spokesperson said. “Huawei has never collected or stored any Facebook user data.”
Earlier in the year, U.S. intelligence chiefs warned Americans against using Huawei phones as well as Honor brand phones, a sub-brand of Huawei.