Russian Tech Conglomerate Had Access to U.S. Facebook User Data: Report

Facebook gave Mail.Ru, a major Russian internet company with ties to the Kremlin, access to the data of millions of people in the United States without their knowledge, CNN reported.

Facebook told the news network on Tuesday that apps developed by the Mail.Ru Group were being looked at as part of the company’s wider investigation into the misuse of Facebook user data in light of the Cambridge Analytica scandal.

Through a long list of Facebook applications, Russian technology conglomerate Mail.Ru Group had the ability to access to information including users’ names as well as their genders, birthdays, locations, and likes on Facebook, according to a source briefed on the investigation into the misuse of Facebook data.

Mail.Ru Group developed hundreds of Facebook apps, some of which were test apps that were not made public, Facebook said.

In March, news broke that the political consulting firm Cambridge Analytica used a Facebook app to amass data on as many as 87 million people without their consent, the social networking giant has been forced to repeatedly answer for how it has given away user data and who it’s given that data to.

In the immediate wake of the scandal, Facebook rushed to defend itself in a blog post, saying that in 2014, it changed an element of its API to prevent apps from collecting data on their users’ friends, as the Cambridge Analytica app did. Facebook has since clarified that while it announced this change in 2014, apps that already had access to people’s friends’ data continued to have access until May 2015.