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Facebook Pursues Bank Customer Info

Facebook Pursues Bank Customer Info
August 6, 2018

Facebook stock was up 2.5 percent today on news reported by the Wall Street Journal that the company is looking into ways to incorporate user’s financial information into their platform.

The initial story reported by the Wall Street Journal indicated that the banking customer data was to be integrated into the larger Facebook platform, but Facebook has since clarified that it’s meant to solely be integrated (for now) into their Messenger app in order to “increase user engagement.” Messenger currently has 1.3 billion users. (Messenger is a stand-alone app owned by Facebook that has been no stranger to privacy controversies of its own.)

While the move purports to create greater convenience and opportunity in the realm of personal finance transactions for users, it comes at a sensitive time for the social media giant, and represents yet another questionable privacy grab.

"Like many online companies, we routinely talk to financial institutions about how we can improve people's commerce experiences, like enabling better customer service. An essential part of these efforts is keeping people's information safe and secure," a Facebook spokesperson said in a statement to CNBC. "We don't use purchase data from banks or credit card companies for ads."

Given Facebook’s seemingly permanent quagmire of privacy-related controversies and the recent historic stock price drop-off, one might think the company might consider sticking to its much publicized (and widely ridiculed) “privacy first” initiative. But for anyone thinking Mark “Privacy Is Dead” Zuckerberg actually learned his lesson, alas, it doesn’t look that way.

That the company is actively pursuing large U.S. banks to share the financial information of their customers should send a collective shudder down the spines of anyone using Messenger.

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