By David Meyer
June 13, 2019

Good morning. David Meyer here in Berlin, filling in for Alan.

Facebook’s shares fell by almost 3% at one point yesterday after the Wall Street Journal reported the firm had “uncovered” emails showing Mark Zuckerberg was connected to “potentially problematic privacy practices at the company.” The emails in question were dug up as part of the Federal Trade Commission’s probe into whether or not Facebook broke its 2012 privacy consent decree with the regulator.

Now, it’s still not clear what these emails entail. And Facebook is still maintaining that “at no point did Mark or any other Facebook employee knowingly violate the company’s obligations under the FTC consent order.”

But, bearing that in mind… seriously?

The consent decree banned Facebook from misrepresenting “in any manner” its privacy and security practices, from the level of control users have over their data, to the ways in which Facebook collects that data, to the level of access third parties have to that data, to “the steps [Facebook] takes or has taken to verify the privacy or security protections that any third party provides.”

The Cambridge Analytica data-scraping scandal alone led Zuckerberg to grovel before users and regulators about Facebook’s “breach of trust.” Then there was the kerfuffle around Facebook’s secret data-sharing deals with Amazon, Apple, Microsoft and others. And the time Facebook misled European antitrust regulators and the public by claiming it wouldn’t merge WhatsApp data into the mothership’s systems, which of course it did (result: $122 million EU fine.) And the way in which it systematically misled users about how their data would be used for commercial practices (result: $11 million fine from the Italian competition regulator.) The list goes on and on and on.

Either Zuckerberg has his head in the clouds to a remarkable degree for a founder who still has unbreakable control over his company, or he was personally connected to these “potentially problematic” practices. These are not slip-ups by underlings; they’re the results of fundamental business choices.

The Journal reports that Facebook worries these newly-unearthed emails could prove a PR problem, but in all likelihood they will only put flesh on the bones everyone can already plainly see.

More news below.

David Meyer


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