Spotify Is Deeply Integrated With Facebook: How Safe is Your Streaming Data?

Spotify is stalking you (advertising campaign image by Spotify)

The public has woken up to the fact that Facebook is a spying and privacy violating machine.   Governments in half a dozen countries have announced some sort of investigation into the company.  What most people don’t realize is that Facebook is not unique.  Virtually every free digital app is spying on you and sharing that data with 3rd parties.  This includes the music streaming service Spotify.

However Spotify is unique.  More than most other services Spotify and the Facebook platform are heavily integrated. When you sign up for Spotify from a web browser, you are encouraged to sign up using your Facebook login so they can associate your account with your profile.  To illustrate just how integrated the companies are when I was offered a free premium account by Spotify (a sort of peace offering) somehow linking it to my email address reactivated my deleted Facebook account! I am not kidding.

And over the years many other people have complained about the tight integration between Facebook and Spotify. Particularly bothersome to many folks is that they often ended up sharing playlists, or songs they didn’t really intend to share.

There are probably two reasons for this.  The first is probably relatively harmless.  Major Facebook and Spotify shareholders overlap. Most notable are funds connected to Sean Parker (of Napster fame) and U2’s Bono (Elevation Partners and TPG). But less famous names and funds share investments in the company.

Screenshot from Facebook Open Music Graph Developers Page. 

But the more important reason they are so tightly integrated is to harvest data.  Folks who think Spotify is just a music platform are mistaken.  The overwhelming number of streams on Spotify are on the ad supported tier.  It is here that Spotify trades OUR songs for YOUR Data. And much of this data goes straight into the Facebook data mining machine. As far as I can tell this has been going since Spotify first launched in the US.

Most people are sophisticated enough to understand the difference between a public and private post.  We live in a relatively free country where political dissent is tolerated; religious persecution is largely unknown and people do not need to hide their sexual preferences from  the police.  But in some countries if certain private information becomes public you could die.

That is why I don’t understand why Spotify for Brands  would brag about data harvesting of this kind:

Paging Chairman Xi, you’ve got some “cultists.” 

Or perhaps worse? What about countries that punish/criminalize anything but super normative heterosexuality?

(From advertising campaign image by Spotify)