The social networking giant faced another set of embarrassing disclosures on Tuesday as NBC News reported that CEO Mark Zuckerberg aggressively used user data as leverage in negotiations with partners and considered deals with them as a way of finding out the "real market value" of that data.
The revelations came out as part of a review of documents in a court case in California between Facebook and the developers of an app that let people pay to find pictures of users in swimsuits. Facebook shut down the app in 2015 when it put restrictions on the sharing of user data with developers.
Some of the documents had already been released, but 4,000 new pages of emails, webchats, presentations, spreadsheets and meeting summaries from 2011-2015 were anonymously leaked to a British investigative journalist, who shared them with several media outlets, according to NBC News.
Facebook shares opened trading on Tuesday down slightly but were recently up slightly to $179.72. Shares are up 37% so far this year.
The documents reportedly showed that Zuckerberg and other executives used the sharing of user data with partners as a bargaining chip in an effort to consolidate its dominance. In some cases, such deals were used to reward companies that spent heavily on advertising on Facebook, as well as those run by "friends" of Zuckerberg, and to penalize potential rivals, according to NBC News.
Zuckerberg also reportedly weighed doing 100 deals to sell access to user data to developers, with Zuckerberg writing in one message that the goal "wouldn't be doing deals themselves" but learning "what developers would actually pay" so that it could help set a "public rate" for developers for that data. Facebook ultimately decided not to move forward with the plan.
Facebook confirmed to NBC News that the documents were genuine but called them misleading.
"The set of documents, by design, tells only one side of the story and omits important context," Facebook VP and deputy general counsel Paul Grewal told NBC News.