The UK parliament’s fake news inquiry has published a cache of seized Facebook documents, which show certain companies were preferential access to user data.

Facebook had objected to the release of documents, which includes internal emails sent between Mark Zuckerberg and the social network’s staff.

About 250 pages have been published, some of which are marked “highly confidential”.

According to the documents, released by a British lawmaker, Facebook gave certain companies, including Netflix and Airbnb, preferential access to user data.

Dating app Badoo and ridesharing app Lyft were among the other companies ‘whitelisted’ for access to friends’ data, the documents made public by MP Damian Collins showed.

Mr Collins, who is also the chair of the parliamentary committee involved, obtained the documents from Six4Three, an app developer that is currently engaged in a legal battle with Facebook.

“The documents Six4Three gathered for their baseless case are only part of the story and are presented in a way that is very misleading without additional context,” a Facebook spokesperson said.

“We stand by the platform changes we made in 2015 to stop a person from sharing their friends’ data with developers.”

Mr Collins also alleged that Facebook took aggressive positions against competitor apps by denying them access to any user data.

The documents show an exchange between Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg and senior executive Justin Osofsky in 2013, which approved barring friends’ data access to Vine, a video-hosting service owned by Twitter.

Mr Collins highlighted several “key issues” in an introductory note.

He wrote that:

In response to the claims, a Facebook spokesperson said: “Like any business, we had many internal conversations about the various ways we could build a sustainable business model for our platform.

“But the facts are clear: we’ve never sold people’s data.”

The following concerns a decision to prevent Twitter’s short-form video service having access to users’ friends lists. It is dated 24 January 2012.

Justin Osofksy (Facebook vice president):

“Twitter launched Vine today which lets you shoot multiple short video segments to make one single, 6-second video… Unless anyone raises objections, we will shut down their friends API access today. We’ve prepared reactive PR, and I will let Jana know our decision.”

Mark Zuckerberg (Facebook chief executive):

“Yup, go for it.”

The following is part of a discussion about giving Facebook’s Android app permission to read users’ call logs. It is dated 4 February 2015.

Michael LeBeau (Facebook product manager):

“As you know all the growth team is planning on shipping a permissions update on Android at the end of this month. They are going to include the ‘read call log’ permission… This is a pretty high-risk thing to do from a PR perspective but it appears that the growth team will charge ahead and do it.”

The following is from a discussion in which Mark Zuckerberg mulled the idea of selling developers access to users’ friends’ data. It is dated October 2012, pre-dating the quiz involved in the Cambridge Analytica scandal. It was sent to Sam Mullin, who was vice president of product management.

Mark Zuckerberg (Facebook chief executive):

“It’s not at all clear to me here that we have a model that will actually make us the revenue we want at scale. I’m getting more on board with locking down some parts of platform, including friends’ data and potentially email addresses for mo

bile apps. I’m generally sceptical that there is as much data leak strategic risk as you think… I think we leak info to developers but I just can’t think of any instances where that data has leaked from developer to developer and caused a real issue for us.”

The following is from an email sent by Mark Zuckerberg to several of his executives in which he explains why he does not think making users pay for Facebook would be a good idea. It is dated 19 November 2012.

Mark Zuckerberg (Facebook chief executive):

“The question is whether we could charge and still achieve ubiquity. Theoretically, if we could do that, it would be better to get ubiquity and get paid. My sense is there may be some price we could charge that wouldn’t interfere with ubiquity, but this price wouldn’t be enough to make us real money. Conversely, we could probably make real money of we were willing to sacrifice ubiquity, but that doesn’t seem like the right trade here.”

– Reuters / BBC