Amid Facebook’s data scandals, new attention is being drawn to statements from Facebook’s general counsel while he was under oath in 2017, where he appeared to mislead about the social network’s access to personal user data.
Facebook currently faces a class action lawsuit after allegedly improperly sharing personal information of more than 71 million Facebook users with political data firm Cambridge Analytica.
But in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee in October of 2017, Facebook General Counsel Colin Stretch may have lied under oath.
Last year, Republican Senator John Kennedy of Louisiana pressed Stretch on the ability of Facebook employees to access private information on users and create a profile on them.
He also asked him about the ability of the social network employees to use that private information, likes, dislikes, and more to target users with advertisements. During the questioning, Stretch denied any access to public profiles to Congress.
“Let’s suppose your CEO came to you, or not you, somebody who could do it in your company, maybe you could, and said, “I want to know everything we can know about Senator Graham. I want to know the movies he likes. I want to know the bars he goes to. I want to know who his friends are. I want to know what schools he went to.” You could do that, couldn’t you?” asked Sen. Kennedy in the 2017 hearing, according to Law and Crime.
“So, I want to be—it is a very good question—the answer is absolutely not. We have limitations in place on our ability to review the person’s—,” Stretch said before being interrupted with more questions.
Ultimately, Stretch made his final comment in Kennedy’s questioning, saying Facebook “cannot” access information at all.
“We have designed our systems to prevent exactly that, to protect the privacy of our users,” he said.
According to a new report by the Wall Street Journal, unidentified Facebook employees have revealed that a select few within Facebook are able to actually gain access to all users.
The report reads that “a small group of Facebook Inc. employees have permission to access users’ profiles without the users finding out.”
According to the employees, Facebook users are not notified when their information is compromised, either.
“Any time a Facebook employee accesses a colleague’s personal profile, the colleague is notified through what is often referred to within the company as a Sauron alert—a reference to the all-seeing eye in the The Lord of the Rings trilogy, people familiar with the matter say,” according to the WSJ report.
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