Tuesday, 07 August 2018 08:54

Facebook seeks access to bank data of Americans: report Featured

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Facebook seeks access to bank data of Americans: report Pixabay

Undeterred by its recent travails, social media giant Facebook has started asking large American banks to share detailed information about their customers in order that it can offer new services to its two billion-plus users.

The Wall Street Journal reported that among the information sought were credit and debit car transactions and account balances for those who held cheque accounts.

Facebook had approached JP Morgan, Chase, Wells Fargo, Citigroup and US Bancorp to talk about offerings it host for bank customers on Facebook Messenger, the WSJ said, citing people familiar with the matter.

The initiative comes as part of recent moves by Facebook to improve its earnings. The company has made moves to try and monetise WhatsApp increasing the functionality of the WhatsApp Business app that it has been testing for a few months, allowing companies to send messages to customers through the app.

Facebook was embroiled in a damaging data leak scandal this year, when it was revealed that data analytics firm Cambridge Analytica had obtained data about 87 million Americans from Facebook which it used to target voters in the 2016 US presidential election. Investigations into the data leak are ongoing.

The company lost about US$120 billion of its value on 26 July after it announced what was its slowest growth of users and warned that revenue would fall for the remainder of the year. Founder Mark Zuckerberg's personal fortune fell by almost US$16 billion.

The announcement was made at an earnings call for its second-quarter results. Facebook had revenue of US$13.23 billion, compared to US$9.32 billion during the corresponding quarter in the previous year. Net income for the quarter was US$5.1 billion, compared to US$3.89 billion in Q2 of 2017.

In talks with the American banks, Facebook had suggested a feature that would show its users their account balances and also one that provide fraud alerts.

Facebook told the WSJ that it would not use data from the banks for targeting advertising or share it with third parties.

“We don’t use purchase data from banks or credit card companies for ads,” spokeswoman Elisabeth Diana said. “We also don’t have special relationships, partnerships, or contracts with banks or credit-card companies to use their customers’ purchase data for ads.”

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Sam Varghese has been writing for iTWire since 2006, a year after the site came into existence. For nearly a decade thereafter, he wrote mostly about free and open source software, based on his own use of this genre of software. Since May 2016, he has been writing across many areas of technology. He has been a journalist for nearly 40 years in India (Indian Express and Deccan Herald), the UAE (Khaleej Times) and Australia (Daily Commercial News (now defunct) and The Age). His personal blog is titled Irregular Expression.

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