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Facebook Emails Reveal Debates Over Selling Data Access

Facebook has long stressed it has never sold the personal data of its users, but a new cache of internal emails between Facebook executives reveals they considered charging developers for access to it.

The emails—released Wednesday by a British member of Parliament overseeing an international committee examining Facebook—provided a rare window into deliberations inside Facebook several years ago over its business model and how it chose to grant or deny outside access to user data. The communications shed light on Facebook’s hardball tactics against some of those developers, including Twitter’s Vine video service and the dating app Tinder. They could fuel calls for more aggressive regulation of Facebook, which has been under fire over its privacy practices and the role disinformation on its service has played in influencing elections.

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'I think this may end up only confirming lots of people’s suspicions about Facebook’s incentive to build its platform in a way that favors itself over users,' said Woodrow Hartzog, a professor of law and computer science at Northeastern University.