New documents suggest Facebook discussed selling access to user data

Facebook officials say documents don't tell full story

DETROIT - Privacy is a big deal on the internet, but newly released information shows Facebook executives wanted to figure out how to tap information about people and use it as leverage with other companies.

CEO Mark Zuckerberg sat down in front of lawmakers during the Cambridge analytical saga. Facebook looks at shares, likes, friends and pictures, but newly obtained documents show Facebook discussed how to use -- or how they planned to use -- that information as a business practice, experts said.

A review of more than 4,000 documents obtained by NBC News indicates executives at Facebook, including Zuckerberg and COO Sheryl Sandberg, discussed ways to sell user data in an effort to cut losses and grow the business.

"This is a company that prioritized growth over privacy and every other value," Wired Editor-in-Chief Nicholas Thompson said.

Facebook officials said the documents were cherry-picked from a court case involving a little-known start-up, writing, "The sets of documents, by design, tell only one side of the story and omit important context. We stand by the platform changes we made in 2014/2015."

Concerns about how Facebook protects personal data have been growing since it was revealed the company improperly shared information from 87 million users with the consulting firm Cambridge Analytica.

Zuckerberg discussed the issue with lawmakers during a hearing on Capitol Hill.

"It was my mistake and I am sorry," Zuckerberg said. "I started Facebook. I run it. At the end of the day, I'm responsible for what happens here."

Many users worry that mistake hasn't been fully corrected.

Ultimately, Facebook officials said they never sold data but traded information with other companies. For example, these documents say Facebook allowed special access to data for friends of Zuckerberg, such as Amazon, an advertiser.

Facebook officials said the documents don't tell the full truth.

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