Facebook is under criminal investigation for a series of controversial data-sharing deals it signed with other major tech companies, according to reports.
US government prosecutors are looking into how Facebook shared personal information from hundreds of millions of its users with more than 150 firms, including Amazon, Apple, Microsoft and Sony, sometimes without their consent.
A grand jury in New York has ordered two smartphone makers which were party to such deals to hand over documents, according to the New York Times, though it is not known what exactly the jury is investigating.
The probe constitutes a sharp escalation of Facebook’s legal problems in the USA, where it is under scrutiny from four separate government agencies, including the US justice department, as well as from legislators.
“We are cooperating with investigators and take those probes seriously,” said a company spokesman. “We’ve provided public testimony, answered questions and pledged that we will continue to do so.”
Facebook is already entangled in a criminal investigation into the Cambridge Analytica scandal, in which political consultants used its systems to improperly harvest data from 87 million people.
But the social network has always said that it was misled by Cambridge Analytica, describing its role in the scandal as having been too lax in policing how other companies were using its service.