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Report: Facebook faces criminal probe of data-sharing deals

U.S. federal prosecutors have launched a criminal probe of Facebook Inc.'s data-sharing partnerships with hardware and software developers, The New York Times reported, citing two sources familiar with the matter.

A grand jury in New York has reportedly subpoenaed records from two mobile device-makers, which are among the more than 150 companies that had struck data-sharing deals with Facebook before the social media company discontinued most of those arrangements.

Facebook said it is working with the investigators on the probe. The company in June 2018 said it had shared some user details with developers as it worked to bring Facebook to a variety of technology platforms and devices. The companies that had struck data-sharing deals included Apple Inc., Amazon.com Inc., Microsoft Corp., Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd. and Alibaba Group Holding Ltd.

The probe adds to an array of investigations into Facebook's data policies.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo in February ordered state authorities to investigate reports that numerous smartphone applications had shared sensitive user information with Facebook, including people who were not signed in or did not have a Facebook account. Facebook also remains under investigation by the U.S. Federal Trade Commission over the Cambridge Analytica LLC scandal that broke in 2018, in which millions of Facebook account users had their information improperly shared by the data analytics firm.

The FTC is considering imposing a "record-setting" fine against Facebook over the Cambridge Analytica matter. Facebook remains in talks with regulators about resolving the investigation.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg in March outlined plans to shift the company toward becoming a "privacy-focused" platform, including unifying the messaging infrastructure of Facebook Messenger, photo-sharing app Instagram Inc. and messaging platform WhatsApp Inc. The plan drew criticism from pro-privacy groups pushing for a spinoff of Instagram and WhatsApp.