confidential emails

(pixabay.com photo)

With the rise and rise of social media engulfing our collective conscience, pertinent and extremely vital questions have been asked of social media mogul Mark Zuckerberg and Facebook on how they treat their user’s data in terms of security and how much access sections like the government and corporations have to their data. Last month on a Friday, documents containing confidential internal correspondence between Facebook bigwigs, including Zuckerberg, pertaining to how the company treats user data. The advent of companies like Facebook facilitated the eventual rise of livecasino in countries like India.

While the veracity of the documents hasn’t been confirmed yet, there have been redacted versions of some of the exhibits published for public viewing previously.

The reveal came in the light of a lawsuit between Facebook and app developer Six4Three. The 60-page long un-redacted documents were posted on GitHub on Friday. Various executives occupying the top echelons of the social media royalty including Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg had their confidential correspondence revealed for the media to munch on, along with a “highly confidential” 2012 memo detailing various policy matters.

Although the authenticity of the documents are yet to be confirmed, Facebook has moved swiftly in a bid to quash any murmurs. A spokesperson came forward and made a statement, stating, “Like the other documents that were cherrypicked and released in violation of a court order last year, these by design tell one side of a story and omit important context.” “As we’ve said, these selective leaks came from a lawsuit where Six4Three, the creators of an app known as Pikinis, hoped to force Facebook to share information on friends of the app’s users. These documents have been sealed by a Californian court so we’re not able to discuss them in detail.”

As any user on Facebook would know, the site usually asks the user to grant or authorize the granting of certain “permissions” if you try to use your Facebook account as a means to sign up to an application and avail its services. If one takes a routine look at the permissions one is granting, we’re usually reassured by the mere mention of “we’ll not post on your wall” but tend to not read through and think about the sort of power we’re handing over when we grant applications the power to access our information. This is, of course, callous on our part to do when we must be more diligent but it goes to show how well Facebook has us sussed out, knowing that we’re more than happy to entrust them with information we do not think is valuable or too dispensable. However, the latest Cambridge Analytica scandal that plagued Facebook and led to Mark Zuckerberg being called up to face the Senate's questions.

The contents of the emails seem to point at a sort of privacy breach which could’ve been quite critical if it hadn’t been caught in time. The situation seems to pertain to this near-fatal gaffe in which a third-party application could’ve divulged Facebook’s financial results ahead of their intended schedule.

Michael Vernal, former vice-president of Facebook, referred to some kind of issue with an app in an email thread, stating that it “could have been near-fatal for Facebook Platform / Login / etc”.

“Wow that would have been a disaster,” responded Avichal Garg, a former director of product management at Facebook.

“If Mark had accidentally disclosed earnings ahead of time because a platform app violated his privacy … literally, that would have basically been fatal for Login / Open Graph / etc,” Vernal responded.

On a thread, Vernal went on to urge everyone to keep the incident confidential, stating, “Listen guys/gals – DO NOT REPEAT THIS STORY OFF OF THIS THREAD.” He added: “I’m super, super serious here. I want us to follow-up on this and respond urgently here, but I also do not want this story spreading inside of Facebook or off of this thread at all. I can’t tell you how terrible this would have been for all of us had this not been caught quickly.”

Central to the entire hullabaloo has been these very dockets outlining or hinting at this incident, causing a stir across the British Channel and were obtained under some rather odd circumstances. Provided by Facebook back in 2015 during the discovery process of the lawsuit filed by Six4Three, they were sealed by the California state judge overseeing the case.

Ted Kramer, the founder of Six4Three, popped up in London and somehow managed to give them to Damian Collins, the chair of the parliamentary committee investigating Facebook’s workings, after Collins told Kramer that failure to do so would put him in “contempt of parliament”.

It continues to baffle and mystify everyone how Kramer came into possession of the documents and considerable debate has raged on as to whether he should have handed them to Collins while in the UK despite the court order. It subsequently earned the ire of both the California court and Facebook.

Collins and the DCMS (digital, culture, media and sport) committee he heads published the results of its enquiry into fake news and disinformation, releasing a redacted selection of the documents he had obtained back in back in December last year.

Among the newly released documents, there is an 8-page memo dating back from July 2012, written by Marne Levine who was Facebook’s vice president of global public policy. It offered some insight into the company’s moves that have seen them push deeper into public consciousness and even politics.

The memo comprises of Levine deliberating upon plans to collect data for Android devices in a bid to enable them to roll out location-aware ‘feature phone’ products in the future. The most intriguing accounts talk about how Facebook executives and employees were getting chummy with politicians all around the world, with one account even talking about how they convinced former Indian president Pranab Mukherjee to create a Facebook account.

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