A Russian internet company was among a group of 61 companies that received a special extension from Facebook after it changed the system that allowed connected apps to access user data.
Mail.ru, whose past executives have ties to the Kremlin, had many different apps on Facebook and was granted a two-week extension by Facebook to make changes on two messaging apps, according to a Wired report.
Facebook has been under fire for its handling of data since March when it was discovered that the data analysis firm Cambridge Analytica collected data on around 87 million people through Facebook. On Wednesday, Britain’s information regulator said it intends to hit Facebook with the maximum amount allowed by law over data practices related to Cambridge Analytica.
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Facebook changed its policy in 2014 on how connected apps could access user data but granted extensions to access that data to various companies, including Mail.ru. Before the change, connected apps could access and collect the data of Facebook users that had given permission, as well as the data of those users' friends who had not given permission.
Ime Archibong, Facebook's vice president of product partnerships, told NBC News in an emailed statement that there was no indication of misuse by Mail.ru.
"Mail.ru, on of the top five largest internet companies in the world, has built apps for the Facebook platform and for other major platforms, including IOS and Android for years," Archibong wrote. "If we find misuse, we ban the developers."
Facebook's data practices have drawn the attention of U.S. politicians, particularly after Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg testified to Congress over two days in April.
Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va., called for Facebook to reveal more information about its connections to Mail.ru.
“In the last six months we’ve learned that Facebook had few controls in place to control the collection and use of user data by third parties," Warner said in an email. "Now we learn that the largest technology company in Russia, whose executives boast close ties to Vladimir Putin, had potentially hundreds of apps integrated with Facebook, collecting user data."
"We need to determine what user information was shared with mail.ru and what may have been done with the captured data," Warner said.
A spokesperson for Mail.ru said in a statement to Wired: “We definitely use our cooperation with Facebook strictly for business needs of our products and strictly according to the Facebook regulations.”