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Photo by Johannes Eisele/AFP/Getty Images

Facebook on Wednesday confirmed four Chinese device makers were among those that had broad access to customer data under a program spotlighted in a New York Times story last weekend. Among them was Huawei, which has close ties to the Chinese government and has been cited by U.S. officials as a national security threat.

Why it matters: The news is sure to rankle some in Washington. On Tuesday morning, top Senate Intelligence Committee Democrat Mark Warner raised worries at an Axios event that Facebook could have shared data with Chinese device makers.

What they're saying: This evening Warner said in a statement that the "news that Facebook provided privileged access to Facebook’s API to Chinese device makers like Huawei and TCL raises legitimate concerns."

  • Republican Sen. Marco Rubio tweeted that the data sharing arrangement with Huawei "could be a very big problem."

Facebook statement, via mobile partnerships exec Francisco Varela:

“Huawei is the third largest mobile manufacturer globally and its devices are used by people all around the world, including in the United States. Facebook along with many other U.S. tech companies have worked with them and other Chinese manufacturers to integrate their services onto these phones. Facebook's integrations with Huawei, Lenovo, OPPO and TCL were controlled from the get go — and we approved the Facebook experiences these companies built. Given the interest from Congress, we wanted to make clear that all the information from these integrations with Huawei was stored on the device, not on Huawei's servers.”

Be smart: Why was Facebook sharing data with device makers? At a time when phone makers all wanted to have a built in version of the social network app or direct access to post to the network, Facebook had more demand than it could handle internally. Its solution at the time was to create tools that the companies could use to develop such capabilities themselves.

Bottom line: The phone makers had access to the Facebook data as part of a program that let them build Facebook interactions into their devices. There is no evidence the Chinese firms or any other companies misused that information, which Facebook says was governed by strict contracts. But Facebook's recent record of third-party data misuse, exemplified in the Cambridge Analytica scandal, has left it with less credibility in this new crisis.

Go deeper

Dave Lawler, author of World
53 mins ago - World

Globetrotting climate envoy Kerry makes Biden team’s first visit to China

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

John Kerry became the first senior Biden administration official to touch down in China this week. He's also been the first to sit down with a string of world leaders.

Why it matters: Kerry may no longer be secretary of state, but you'd be forgiven for thinking otherwise after a glance at his calendar. The unusual role could make Kerry a foreign policy force multiplier for President Biden, or potentially a source of mixed messages.

Chicago releases video of fatal police shooting of 13-year-old boy

A small memorial is seen on April 15 in Chicago where 13-year-old Adam Toledo was shot and killed by a police officer in March. Photo: Kamil Krzaczynski/Getty Images

Chicago's independent police review board on Thursday released the body camera footage of an officer's fatal shooting of 13-year-old Adam Toledo on March 29.

The big picture: Tension continues to rise nationwide in response to police misconduct and racism. Thursday's footage release comes days after officer Kim Potter fatally shot Daunte Wright in a traffic stop near Minneapolis, where the trial of Derek Chauvin, a former police officer accused of murdering George Floyd, is ongoing.