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Facebook Is Under Criminal Investigation Over Data Deals With Other Companies

According to a New York Times report, federal prosecutors have subpoenaed the records of at least two smartphone companies.

Posted on March 13, 2019, at 9:29 p.m. ET

Saul Loeb / AFP / Getty Images

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg testifies during a US House Committee on Energy and Commerce hearing about Facebook in Washington, DC, on April 11, 2018.

Facebook is under criminal investigation by federal prosecutors with the United States attorney’s office for the Eastern District of New York over the social media giant's partnerships with other tech companies that gave them access to its users' data. The New York Times was first to report the probe.

In a statement, Facebook told BuzzFeed News, “It has already been reported that there are ongoing federal investigations, including by the Department of Justice. As we’ve said before, we are cooperating with investigators and take those probes seriously. We've provided public testimony, answered questions, and pledged that we will continue to do so."

It's already been reported that there are ongoing federal investigations, incl. by the Dept of Justice. As we’ve said, we're cooperating w/ investigators and take those probes seriously. We've provided public testimony, answered questions, and pledged that we'll continue to do so https://t.co/v3QkokZq2p

Two anonymous sources described as “familiar with the requests” told the Times that records from at least unspecified two smartphone companies have been subpoenaed by a New York grand jury. The hardware companies had deals with Facebook that allowed them to see Facebook users’ data, including friend lists and contact information, sometimes without people's consent.

The Eastern District of New York spokesman Tyler Daniels said the office “can neither confirm nor deny the existence of an investigation.”

In July, Facebook submitted 747 pages of documents to Congress, in which the company said it authorized 52 device makers, including Blackberry, Apple, Microsoft, and Samsung, to build Facebook features or versions of the Facebook app for their products. In the documents, Facebook said it had discontinued 38 of those partnerships.

Facebook has had a challenging Wednesday. The news of the criminal investigation comes following outages that are affecting the social networking giant’s entire family of apps, including WhatsApp, Instagram, and Messenger.

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