The arrangement with the companies was called the "whitelists" that allowed "certain companies to access additional information about a user's Facebook friends".
Among the companies with which Facebook has agreed to transfer data, Royal Bank of Canada and Nissan Motor, explain the sources of The Wall Street Journal, noting that these firms either publish ads in social media or were useful in other ways.
As per the people who know in great detail about the matter, the information that some companies have been granted access to data was hidden from developers who are associated with Facebook. The agreements were also completely separate from Facebook's data sharing program with device manufacturers, which the company owned up to earlier this week.
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The claims reported in The Wall Street Journal suggest Facebook kept a whitelist of partners who could access detailed data - even after the point when the social network said it had shut out this sort of access to developers.
"Any new "deals", as the Journal describes them, involved people's ability to share their broader friends' lists - not their friends' private information like photos or interests - with apps under the more restricted version of the API", said Ime Archibong, Facebook's vice president of product partnerships. These extensions were short-term and have long since been terminated, Facebook says.
However, it is unclear how many companies agreed to the whitelists and for exactly how long.
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Facebook, in particular, allowed them to receive information about users' phones, as well as statistics, from which it was possible to determine how close their relationships with each other were.
The revelation came after a New York Times report exposed how the social network allowed about 60 device makers, including Chinese smartphone players, to access personal information of users and their friends.
"In 2014, all developers were given a year to switch to the new, more restricted version of the (app programming interface)", Archibong said. Since April 25, Facebook has run a national marketing campaign, including television spots that have aired during the NBA Finals, in an attempt to improve the company's image and its "commitment to doing better". These companies were effectively whitelisted to use that data.
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