Facebook fired 52 employees for abusing their access to social network user data — including men who obtained location data from women they were romantically interested in, according to a new report.
Using access to a large amount of user data through Facebook’s internal systems, engineers were able to see the women’s locations, private messages, deleted photos and more, according to a report in the Telegraph.
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In one case described in the report, a Facebook engineer was on vacation with a woman in Europe when the two fought and the woman wanted some time alone. Using Facebook data, the engineer allegedly tracked her to her new hotel and confronted her.
In another episode, an engineer reportedly used Facebook data to discover that a woman he was dating regularly visited Dolores Park in San Francisco, then used the information to go there and meet her friends.
While 52 employees were fired for such offenses in 2014 and 2015, then-Facebook security chief Alex Stamos reportedly warned that hundreds of others may have gone unnoticed.
Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg reportedly was upset when he found out about the widespread abuse of user information — and asked why no one at the company had thought to restrict engineers’ access to such data.
But Zuckerberg himself had designed the company’s data access system and refused to change it as the company grew, according to the report.
“At various times in Facebook’s history, there were paths we could have taken, decisions we could have made, that would have limited, or even reduced, the user data we were collecting,” said a former Facebook employee.
“But that was unethical for Mark’s DNA,” the source said. “Even before we took those options to him, we knew it wasn’t a path he would choose.”
“We’ve always had zero tolerance for abuse and we’ve fired all employees who were improperly accessing data,” a Facebook spokesperson said in a statement. “Since 2015, we have continued to strengthen our employee training, abuse detection and prevention protocols. We are also continuing to reduce the need for engineers to access some types of data as they work to build and support our services. ”
Another bombastic snippet of the book published last week in the New York Times said Zuckerberg’s relationship with Facebook’s chief operating officer, Sheryl Sandberg, soured during the Trump era because Sandberg’s connections to the Obama administration had suddenly become useless.
Hours after the report was posted online, Zuckerberg and Sandberg conveniently strolled in front of news cameras at the Allen & Co. Conference in Sun Valley, Idaho.
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