Facebook Reportedly Gives Employees Better Privacy Capabilities Than Average User


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Eric Lieberman Managing Editor
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Just as it does with leader Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook reportedly affords its employees more privacy protections than the average user.

For instance, when a Facebook employee views a user’s personal profile, the observed doesn’t know the observer is doing so. Facebook employees, on the other hand, are notified through a “Sauron alert” when a colleague is parsing through their page and information, according to The Wall Street Journal. Sauron is a colloquial reference to the antagonist of “The Lord of the Rings” series, who is an evil necromancer who can see all, showing that employees know how such capabilities may be perceived.

If roughly 2 billion users do not have the same privacy powers as the employees, then it wouldn’t be very surprising that the company also deleted records of conversations Zuckerberg had with certain people. Multiple people reportedly told TechCrunch earlier in April that digital conversations they had directly with Zuckerberg before 2016 no longer existed, and not due to their own doing.

Facebook claims it was for cybersecurity reasons.

“After Sony Pictures’ emails were hacked in 2014 we made a number of changes to protect our executives’ communications,” the tech giant said in a statement sent to The Daily Caller News Foundation. “These included limiting the retention period for Mark’s messages in Messenger. We did so in full compliance with our legal obligations to preserve messages.”

The affected users who communicated with Zuckerberg said they never received any notifications of the removal. A Facebook spokeswoman said people can remove messages in their own inbox, but that the threads would still be accessible on the other or others’ accounts.

Facebook told The WSJ that it has considered making the Sauron alerts a feature available for all users, but worry that it could tip off “bad actors” or hinder their “work to prevent real world harm in cases of abuse.”

And such systems can certainly be abused, particularly by their own. Facebook fired a security engineer who used “privileged access” to brag to a woman he met on Tinder, a popular dating app.

It’s important that people’s information is kept secure and private when they use Facebook,” Alex Stamos said in a statement obtained by TheDCNF. “It’s why we have strict policy controls and technical restrictions so employees only access the data they need to do their jobs – for example to fix bugs, manage customer support issues or respond to valid legal requests.”

Facebook employees are supposed to provide justification for accessing profiles, but those are often not vetted by managers until after the fact, The WSJ reports.

Facebook’s alleged ethos of privacy “for me, but not for thee,” comes as the tech giant has been reeling from incensed accusations that it doesn’t care how its platform is used or manipulated, nor how it handles massive amounts of user data. Many lawmakers seem to be sharpening their proverbial legislative swords, threatening different forms of legislation that would impose more transparency, if not restrict Facebook’s operating capacity.

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