Mark Zuckerberg

Mark Zuckerberg has defended emails showing Facebook offering Netflix and other popular apps preferential access to people’s data even after it had tightened its privacy rules.

A British parliamentary committee investigating whether the social media behemoth was being used to manipulate the results of elections published 250 pages of internal Facebook documents earlier Wednesday.

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They show executives holding discussions about big companies such as Netflix being granted preferential access to user data even after Facebook had tightened its privacy rules in 2014-15.

Zuckerberg featured in one email exchange from 2012 in which he mulled selling the information to developers.

The emails feature in a lawsuit filed against Facebook in a California court by the now-defunct US app developer Six4Three.

They were sealed by the presiding judge but seized by the British committee under a never-before-used parliamentary enforcement procedure last month.

Zuckerberg said he was writing because he did not want the emails to “misrepresent our actions or motives”.

“Like any organization, we had a lot of internal discussion and people raised different ideas,” Zuckerberg said in a message posted on Facebook.

He did not directly address Facebook’s apparent decision to give some of the world’s most popular apps special access to friends lists and other personal information that many people want to keep private.

“Ultimately, we decided on a model where we continued to provide the developer platform for free and developers could choose to buy ads if they wanted,” Zuckerberg wrote.

But he added: “To be clear, that’s different from selling people’s data. We’ve never sold anyone’s data.”