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Leak: Facebook Engineers Say Company Has No Idea Where User Data Goes or How It Is Used

Engineers in the Facebook Ad division are concerned the company does not know where customer data goes or how it is used.


Nobody does tech scandals better than , which is why Meta was born to distance the company's metaverse products from the tainted network. In the latest sorry escapade, it seems Facebook has no idea where all the user data it gathers goes and what it does with it.

According to a leaked document by privacy engineers in the company's Ad and Business Product division, Facebook is mishandling user information. This comes from the team that manages the ads system on Facebook.

This is no small thing considering ads are hugely important and drive the brand's revenue. In other words, this team oversees what is the very foundation of Facebook's monetization. Ads are also the main reason why the company gathers user information, allowing advertisers to use the data to target customers.

While that sucks, it is sort of part of the deal when you sign up to Facebook and use its myriad (some excellent) services for free. However, the leaked document shows engineers are concerned about where customer data goes and how it is used. The authors of the document are calling for changes to better manage information.

Broken Data Trail

The core theme of the leak is Facebook does not follow the data trail. Engineers do not know where customer data goes or how the company uses it. Regulators around the world demand certain data protocols from social media companies. For example, article 5 of the EU's GDPR laws states tech companies must know where the data goes.

Specifically, the article says data must be “collected for specified, explicit and legitimate purposes and not further processed in a manner that is incompatible with those purposes.”

In other words, data must be gathered with a specific usage goal in mind. If Facebook does not know what happens to the data, it cannot guarantee it is being used for a specific goal. Engineers are worried and used the following analogy to explain the data problem:

“Imagine you hold a bottle of ink in your hand. This bottle of ink is a mixture of all kinds of user data (3PD, 1PD, SCD, Europe, etc.) You pour that ink into a lake of water (our open data systems; our open culture) … and it flows … everywhere. How do you put that ink back in the bottle? How do you organize it again, such that it only flows to the allowed places in the lake?””

If you're unfamiliar with the terms, 3PD signifies third-party data, 1PD is first-party data, and SCD means sensitive categories data.

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Luke Jones
Luke Jones
Luke has been writing about all things tech for more than five years. He is following Microsoft closely to bring you the latest news about Windows, Office, Azure, Skype, HoloLens and all the rest of their products.

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