October 16, 2019
Latest News
Entertainment

Facebook worries emails could show CEO knew of questionable privacy practices

By John D. McKinnon, Emily Glazer, Deepa Seetharaman and Jeff Horwitz

Bangkok Desk, Jun 13 (efe-epa).- Facebook Inc. uncovered emails that appear to connect Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg to potentially problematic privacy practices at the company, according to people familiar with the matter, Dow Jones Newswires reported in an article provided to Efe Thursday.

Within the company, the unearthing of the emails in the process of responding to a continuing federal privacy investigation has raised concerns that they would be harmful to Facebook - at least from a public-relations standpoint - if they were to become public, one of the people said.

The potential impact of the internal emails has been a factor in the tech giant's desire to reach a speedy settlement of the investigation by the Federal Trade Commission, one of the people said. Facebook is operating under a 2012 consent decree with the agency related to privacy, and the emails sent around that time suggest that Mr. Zuckerberg and other senior executives didn't make compliance with the FTC order a priority, the people said.

It couldn't be determined exactly what emails the agency has requested and how many of them relate to Mr. Zuckerberg.

The FTC investigation began more than a year ago after reports that personal data of tens of millions of Facebook users improperly wound up in the hands of Cambridge Analytica, a data firm that worked on President Trump's 2016 campaign. The FTC is investigating whether that lapse violated the 2012 consent decree with the agency in which Facebook agreed to better protect user privacy. Since the Cambridge Analytica affair, other privacy missteps have come to light, adding to Facebook's headaches.

Facebook has been eager to strike a deal with the FTC and put the Cambridge Analytica scandal behind it. The firm said in April it was expecting to pay up to $5 billion as part of an accord with the agency.

"We have fully cooperated with the FTC's investigation to date and provided tens of thousands of documents, emails and files. We are continuing to work with them and hope to bring this matter to an appropriate resolution," a Facebook spokesperson said on Tuesday in a statement. On Wednesday, after publication of this article, the company sent an additional statement, saying: "At no point did Mark or any other Facebook employee knowingly violate the company's obligations under the FTC consent order nor do any emails exist that indicate they did."

It couldn't be determined whether any of the emails - which have been described by people familiar with them but not reviewed by The Wall Street Journal - reveal practices that violated the 2012 accord. Any evidence that Mr. Zuckerberg was directly involved in a potential failure on Facebook's part to honor the terms of its consent decree with the FTC could complicate efforts on both sides to resolve the matter.

At least some internal emails already provided to the agency show Facebook grappling with gray areas in how it should address privacy under the consent order, with Mr. Zuckerberg closely involved, according to people familiar with the messages.

In one email exchange from April 2012 that has caught regulators' attention, according to a person familiar with the matter, Mr. Zuckerberg asked employees about an app that claimed to have built a database stocked with information about tens of millions of Facebook users. The developer had the ability to display that user information to others on its own site, regardless of those users' privacy settings on Facebook, the person said.

Mr. Zuckerberg wanted to know if such extensive data collection was possible and if Facebook should do anything to stop developers from displaying that data, the person said.

Another employee responded to Mr. Zuckerberg's question, saying it was possible and many developers do the same thing but adding it was a complicated issue, the person said.

The discussion continued without Mr. Zuckerberg or anyone else suggesting by email that the company investigate how many other apps were stockpiling user data, the person said. Eventually Facebook suspended the app in question, the person said, adding that it didn't move aggressively to address the broader problem.

At the time, Facebook executives were largely focused on increasing the company's user base and adding advertisers, and appeared to be less diligent about enforcing its data-use rules, developers and former employees have said. The company had repeatedly said it was too slow to react to privacy and security issues.

That email exchange occurred after the FTC's consent decree had been announced but before it went into effect. The decree says Facebook must honor a user's privacy settings and not share data without a user's explicit permission. If it had been in effect at the time, the stockpiling of such user data would potentially have violated it. Mr. Zuckerberg's message seemed to indicate he was aware of that, according to the person who was familiar with the exchange.

FTC staffers have been exploring the episode as part of the investigation, the person said.

A multibillion-dollar civil penalty would be a record for the FTC, but the agency is under pressure from some lawmakers to extract more punitive terms or litigate the matter, since even such a large financial penalty would inflict little pain on the tech giant.

Some FTC officials have debated whether to name Mr. Zuckerberg as a respondent in the complaint that would be filed by the agency as part of a settlement. If there are documents suggesting Facebook and Mr. Zuckerberg specifically didn't take regulators seriously, that could complicate those discussions. There is no indication that any of the documents turned over to the FTC show that.

Facebook has vigorously opposed any efforts to hold Mr. Zuckerberg personally liable as part of a settlement, according to people familiar with the matter.

The FTC alternative of suing Facebook in court holds risks for both sides. Even if it were to win, the agency would likely obtain far less in both monetary penalties and operational changes at Facebook than it could gain through a settlement, legal observers have said. For Facebook, those people said, litigation would make emails involving Mr. Zuckerberg and other senior executives more likely to become public, possibly casting doubt on the company's renewed public commitment to privacy.

Mr. Zuckerberg, who last year said he made a "huge mistake" in not focusing on user privacy earlier, has been talking about charting a new path for Facebook. He announced earlier this year that the company would pivot toward encrypted and ephemeral messaging products and would support the U.S. government imposing personal-data protection along the lines of Europe's existing laws.

Legal and political efforts in numerous jurisdictions are continuing to explore the company's past practices.

Sealed American court documents obtained and made public by the British Parliament show Facebook sought to expand its access to users' data without informing them and snooped on mobile phone users' activities on other platforms.

In the U.S., the attorney general of Washington, D.C., Karl Racine, is suing the company over the Cambridge Analytica matter, alleging in a recent filing that Facebook's staffers were aware that its data was being misused for political purposes as early as 2015.

Facebook is fighting the D.C. lawsuit and has disputed that the company knew of the Cambridge Analytica misconduct in 2015. The company has called the documents obtained by U.K. officials "cherry-picked" and misleading.

dj/ses

News history
Saype's Beyond Walls Project land art

French-Swiss artist Saype has installed a huge artwork in Geneva's Parc de la Grange. The piece covers an area of 5,000 square meters, is 165 meters long...

Game of Thrones sweeps Creative Arts Emmys with 10 awards

Los Angeles, USA, Sep 15 (efe-epa).- Fantasy series "Game of Thrones" dominated at the American television Emmy Awards ceremony over the weekend, earning 10...

Nazi satire "Jojo Rabbit" gets crowned at TIFF with People's Choice Award

By Julio Cesar Rivas

Mexico seeks to topple Brazil's Volkswagen Guinness World Record

Puebla, Mexico, Sep 15 (efe-epa).- The Mexican state of Puebla over the weekend attempted to take the Guinness World Record for the most Volkswagen vehicles...

Honduran president asks CentAm to work together to overcome common enemies

Tegucigalpa, Sep 15 (efe-epa).- Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernandez on Sunday urged Central Americans to unite to face "common enemies," including...

Ortega encabeza desfile de bandas rítmicas en fiestas patrias de Nicaragua

Managua, Sep 14 (efe-epa).- Nicaragua's president on Saturday headed the national parade of percussive bands and rhythmic gymnastics held each year on...

From pharmaceuticals to fashion, Fructuoso on dressing Beyoncé

By Ana Paula Chain

The jewels of the Russian tsars come to Amsterdam’s Hermitage

By Imane Rachidi

Director James Gunn announces cast for upcoming "Suicide Squad" sequel

Los Angeles, USA, Sep 13 (efe-epa).- American filmmaker James Gunn on Friday announced the star-studded cast for the second part of the 2016 DC comic-book...

Felicity Huffman sentenced to 14 days in college admissions scandal

Washington, Sep 13 (EFE).- Actress Felicity Huffman, best known for the television series "Desperate Housewives," was sentenced Friday to two weeks behind...

La ilustradora de cómic colombiana Sindy Infante Saavedra en el  Comic Strip Festival de Bruselas

Brussels, Sep 13 (efe-epa).- The annual Brussels Comic Strip Festival kicked off in the Belgium capital on Friday.

London Fashion Week kicks off amid PETA protest

London, Sep 13 (efe-epa).- Global designers presented their Spring/Summer 2020 collections at London Fashion Week which launched Friday and will run until...

Mugabe to be buried at National Heroes Acre monument

Harare, Sep 13 (efe-epa).- Robert Mugabe will be buried at the National Heroes Acre monument after a ceremony on Sunday marking the Zimbabwean leader's...

Monsters lurk in hotel room inspired by Mexican filmmaker Guillermo del Toro

Guadalajara, Mexico, Sep 13 (efe-epa).- Monsters, skulls and a creepy Victorian-steampunk atmosphere inspired by Mexican filmmaker Guillermo del Toro are to...

Lovers of Modena were two men so why were they buried together?

Rome, Sep 13 (efe-epa).- For ten years two skeletons lying side by side with their hands clasped were known as the Lovers of Modena but it has now been...

HBO reportedly nearing order for 2nd Game of Thrones prequel about Targaryens

Los Angeles, USA, Sep 12 (efe-epa).- American cable giant HBO is nearing a pilot order for a second series set in the same universe as its hit fantasy show...

Austrian bank organizing trip for 1,500 tourists to Cantabria, Basque region

Kapelln, Austria, Sep 12 (efe-epa).- Cantabria and the Basque Country next spring will welcome some 1,500 Austrian tourists divided into dozens of groups...

Meghan Markle launches charity capsule collection

London, Sep 12 (EFE).- The Duchess of Sussex, Meghan Markle, launched a charity capsule collection to help unemployed women on Thursday at her first...

Palace of founder of modern Egypt to receive visitors

Cairo, Sep 12 (efe-epa).- The palace where the creator of modern Egypt Mohammad Ali Pasha resided has regained its splendor and is due to reopen to the...

Meghan Markle launches charity capsule collection

London, Sep 12 (efe-epa).- The Duchess of Sussex, Meghan Markle, launched a charity capsule collection to help unemployed women on Thursday at her first...

Lord Ganesha's birthday celebrated in India

Indian devotees on Thursday celebrated the Ganpati festival that marks the birth of the Hindu god Lord Ganesha. The celebrations involved the ritual of...

Conservative Thai Buddhists file case against superhero Buddha art

Bangkok, Sep 12 (efe-epa).- A group of hardline Buddhists in Thailand have filed a police complaint about an artwork that depicts Buddha as 1960s Japanese...

Remakes of iconic games steal limelight at Tokyo Game Show

By María Roldán

Cockfighting rakes in millions in Thailand

By Noel Caballero

I agree Welcome to news4europe.eu. We use cookies to improve your online experience. Find out more.