Facebook accused of asking banks for financial information about its users


(FB) is seeking to acquire financial data on its users.

According to WSJ, Facebook doesn't want to just be a platform where you can communicate with your friends, but also a place to buy and sell goods and services.

According to the report, Facebook has asked banks "to discuss potential offerings it could host for bank customers on Facebook Messenger", as well as offer a feature to display checking account balances.

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In brief: Facebook doesn't exactly have the best track record when it comes to data privacy, but the company isn't letting its troubled past deter it from pursuing new data sharing partnerships. A deeper integration with banks would also give Facebook another way to nudge users to shop on the platform.

In response to the Journal's reporting, critics of corporate power used the word "dystopian" to describe the push by Facebook, Google, and Amazon for ever-greater access to users' personal information in a bid to boost profits. According to the Journal, at least one large US bank pulled away from talks with the company as a result of privacy concerns. "Facebook has told banks that the additional customer information could be used to offer services that might entice users to spend more time on Messenger".

Facebook acknowledged last month that it was facing multiple inquiries from USA and British regulators about a scandal involving the now bankrupt British consultancy Cambridge Analytica.

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Wells Fargo declined to address the news.

The talks are part of an effort to make Facebook Messenger more of a destination for online shopping. Spokeswoman Elisabeth Diana has said "we don't use purchase data from banks or credit card companies for ads".

"We haven't shared any customer information or data to Facebook or any other technology platform", said Dana Ripley, chief communications officer at US Bancorp, in an email statement. This marks the largest gain since the rapid drop in July.

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