All Zuckerberg cared about was these documents not seeing the light of day. Who the hell does he think he is that the American judicial system should protect such a scoundrel? Worse still, a U.S. judge had ordered the papers remain secret, but a British MP defied the order.
Zuckerberg privately admitted that what’s good for the world isn’t necessarily what’s good for Facebook.
In one of the emails, Zuckerberg candidly admits that Facebook’s interests aren’t always aligned with those of its users and the broader world.
Zuckerberg and co. planned to sell phone call records, charge app developers 250K per year to access users’ data — evil. Facebook is evil. On a side note:
The left demonized great men of industry like J. P Morgan Vanderbilt, Carnegie, Rockfeller — great men of great achievement — while these trolls whose crowing achievement is writing code have systematically destroyed our freedoms and public trust:
Tech companies such as Google and Facebook are also utilities of sorts that provide essential services. They depend on the free use of public airwaves. Yet they are subject to little oversight; they simply make up their own rules as they go along. Antitrust laws prohibit one corporation from unfairly devouring its competition, capturing most of its market, and then price-gouging as it sees fit without fear of competition. Google has all but destroyed its search-engine competitors in the same manner that Facebook has driven out competing social media.
Why are huge tech companies seemingly exempt from the rules that older corporations must follow?
First, their CEOs wisely cultivate the image of hipsters. The public sees them more as aging teenagers in T-shirts, turtlenecks, and flip-flops than as updated versions of J. P. Morgan, John D. Rockefeller, or other robber barons of the past.
Second, the tech industry’s hierarchy is politically progressive. In brilliant marketing fashion, the Internet, laptops, tablets, and smartphones have meshed with the hip youth culture of music, television, the movies, universities, and fashion. Think Woodstock rather than Wall Street.
Corporate spokesmen at companies such as Twitter and YouTube brag about their social awareness, especially on issues such as radical environmentalism, identity politics, and feminism. Given that the regulatory deep state is mostly a liberal enterprise, the tech industry is seen as an ally of federal bureaucrats and regulators. Think more of Hollywood, the media, and universities than Exxon, General Motors, Koch Industries, and Philip Morris.
British politician releases 250 pages of seized Facebook and Mark Zuckerberg emails which reveal they wanted to charge companies at least $250,000 per year for access to users’ data
- British MP Damian Collins published more than 250 pages of seized documents
- They reveal plans to offer firms access to user data based on their spending
- Included are emails from Zuckerberg himself where he talks about restricting access to user data as a way to leverage money out of app developers
- U.S. judge had ordered the papers remain secret, but Collins defied the order
- Facebook planned to let its android app read users’ call records in which it admitted was a ‘pretty high-risk thing to do from a PR perspective.’
- Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg approved a decision to block Twitter’s app Vine from accessing users’ friends lists because it was a competitor
- Mr Zuckerberg discussed with executives the consequences of letting certain apps and not others access Facebook friends data
- Mr Zuckerberg said he was ‘sceptical’ that apps he let access Facebook users’ data would pass this data on, as happened in the Cambridge Analytica scandal
- Facebook denied any wrongdoing and said documents are taken out of context
By Chris Pleasance for MailOnline and Tim Sculthorpe, Deputy Political Editor For Mailonline, 5 December 2018 | Updated: 15:08 EST, 5 December 2018
A huge dossier of secret documents about the Facebook data scandal was published by British MPs today.
MP Damian Collins used parliamentary privilege to seize the documents from the founder of US app developer Six4Three who had them as part of a legal case against Facebook.
In an extraordinary move when founder Ted Kramer was passing through London in November, Mr Collins had him escorted to Parliament and threatened to imprison him if he didn’t hand them over. He promptly did so.
The trove of emails and private messages – which a US judge had ordered to be kept secret – reveal how Facebook let companies including Lyft, Bumble, and AirBnB have special access to user data if they spent big on advertising.
The documents also reveal:
Facebook planned to let its android app read users’ call records in which it admitted was a ‘pretty high-risk thing to do from a PR perspective’
Facebook aggressively stopped rivals from accessing its users’ data to maintain dominance, causing many apps to fail
CEO Mark Zuckerberg personally approved a decision to block Twitter’s app Vine from accessing users’ Facebook friends lists
Mr Zuckerberg said he was ‘sceptical’ that apps with access Facebook users’ data would pass this data on, as then happened in the Cambridge Analytica scandal
Facebook used app Onavo to spy on users’ app usage, apparently without their knowledge, to identify competitor apps
Facebook has taken a hammering on stock markets in recent months but was saved from an immediate reaction because the New York Stock Exchange was closed on Wednesday for George H.W. Bush’s funeral.
However, further losses were expected on Thursday when it reopens.
The messages discuss changes that Facebook made to its site in 2015 which limited the amount of data that certain apps could extract from the Facebook friends of their users.
The ThisIsYourDigitalLife app exploited this feature to get information from millions of Facebook profiles despite only having around 300,000 direct users, which it later sold to political consulting firm Cambridge Analytica.
In emails sent ahead of the changes being implemented, Facebook senior staff discussed ‘whitelisting’ several apps – including Lyft, Tinder, and AirBnB – meaning they would keep full access to friend data, after changes in 2015 theoretically stopped friend data from being exchanged.
The emails make it clear that access to such data would depend on how much the companies were paying Facebook.
In one particularly blunt email sent by Konstantinos Papamiltidas, Facebook’s director of platform partnerships, he said: ‘Communicate in one-go to all apps that don’t spend that those permission[s] will be revoked.
‘Communicate to the rest that they need to spend on NEKO [a platform that Facebook uses to sell advertising] $250k a year to maintain access to the data.’
In another email from Mark Zuckerberg himself, sent in 2012, he lays out his vision for how Facebook will generate money in the future, including leveraging developers for access to data.
He writes: ‘I’m getting more on board with locking down some parts of platform, including friends data and potentially email addresses for mobile apps.
Collins took the decision to publish the documents after Mark Zuckerberg refused to testify directly to the investigation he is leading into fake news
‘Without limiting distribution or access to friends who use this app, I don’t think we have any way to get developers to pay us at all…’
In another email, sent around the same time, he discusses charging developers a fee for accessing user data – which he says should ‘cost a lot of money’ – which they can repay to Facebook by buying their advertising or using their payments service.
He writes: ‘A basic model could be: Login with Facebook is always free, pushing content to Facebook is always free, reading anything, including friends, costs a lot of money. Perhaps on the order of $0.10/user each year.
‘For the money that you owe, you can cover it in any of the following ways: Buy[ing] ads from us in neko or another system.
What do the Facebook emails say?
1. Facebook planned to let its android app read users’ call records in which it admitted was a ‘pretty high-risk thing to do from a PR perspective’
Michael LeBeau (Facebook product manager) wrote on 4 February 2015:
‘As you know all the growth team is planning on shipping a permissions update on Android at the end of this month. They are going to include the ‘read call log’ permission… This is a pretty high-risk thing to do from a PR perspective but it appears that the growth team will charge ahead and do it.’
2. Facebook aggressively stopped rivals from accessing its users’ data to maintain dominance, causing many apps to fail. CEO Mark Zuckerberg personally approved a decision to block Twitter’s app Vine from accessing users’ Facebook friends lists.
Justin Osofksy (Facebook vice president) wrote on 24 January 2012: ‘Twitter launched Vine today which lets you shoot multiple short video segments to make one single, 6-second video… Unless anyone raises objections, we will shut down their friends API access today. We’ve prepared reactive PR, and I will let Jana know our decision.’
CEO Mark Zuckerberg replied: ‘Yup, go for it.’
3. Mr Zuckerberg said he was ‘sceptical’ that apps with access Facebook users’ data would pass this data on, as then happened in the Cambridge Analytica scandal in 2016
In a 2012 email to Sam Lessin, the company’s former VP of Project Management, Mr Zuckerberg wrote:
‘I’m generally skeptical that there is as much data leak strategic risk as you think. I agree there is clear risk on the advertiser side, but I haven’t figured out how that connects to the rest of the platform. I think we leak info to developers, but I just can’t think if any instances where that data has leaked from developer to developer and caused a real issue for us. Do you have examples of this?’
4. Facebook CEOs planned to provide user data to apps which paid Facebook a certain amount
Konstantinos Papamiltidas, Facebook’s director of platform partnerships, ordered: ‘Communicate to all apps that don’t spend that those permission[s] will be revoked.
‘Communicate to the rest that they need to spend on NEKO [a platform that Facebook uses to sell advertising] $250k a year to maintain access to the data.’
‘Run our ads in your app or website (canvas apps already do this). Use our payments. Sell your items in our Karma store.
‘Or if the revenue we get from those doesn’t add up to more that the fees you owe us, then you just pay us the fee directly.’
Mr Collins, the chairman of Parliament’s Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee, said: ‘Facebook have clearly entered into whitelisting agreements with certain companies, which meant that after the platform changes in 2014/15 they maintained full access to friends data.
‘It is not clear that there was any user consent for this, nor how Facebook decided which companies should be whitelisted or not.
‘It is clear that increasing revenues from major app developers was one of the key drivers behind the… changes at Facebook.
‘The idea of linking access to friends data to the financial value of the developers relationship with Facebook is a recurring feature of the documents.’
Defending his decision to publish the papers, which contravenes a California judge who ruled they should remain a secret, he added that there was a ‘considerable public interest’.
He said Facebook had failed to give ‘straight answers’ to his inquiry after Mark Zuckerberg failed to show up to a grand committee featuring politicians from eight countries last week.
Mr Collins seized the documents from the owner of a controversial app maker Six4Three last month using his parliamentary privilege.
The dossier includes emails written by Mr Zuckerberg himself, as well as hundreds of documents about privileged access to data given by Facebook to certain applications.
Mr Collins said: ‘I believe there is considerable public interest in releasing these documents.
Where do the Six4Three Facebook papers come from and why is Mr Collins allowed to publish them?
The documents seized by Collins and his committee stem from a court case being heard in California between app developer Six4Three and Facebook.
Ted Kramer, who owns the developer, launched a suit against Facebook after the tech company restricted to data that one of his apps – Pinkini – could access.
The app was designed to identify bikini photos among albums posted by friends on Facebook, and the restrictions effectively killed it.
As part of the lawsuit, Kramer accuses Facebook of encouraging developers to build apps based around access to data that it then withdrew.
He also alleges that Zuckerberg sold expensive ads to developers in return for long-term access to the data.
This form of access was later exploited by Cambridge Analytica in an attempt to affect elections.
As part of his case, Kramer got his hands on documents – said to include confidential emails between senior executives, and correspondence with Zuckerberg – apparently showing they knew about issues around the privacy of user data.
Facebook fought for months to keep the documents secret, and was ultimately vindicated when a California judge ruled in its favor.
But now Collins has published the documents because he is outside of US jurisdiction and protected in his role as a minister heading up an investigation.
‘They raise important questions about how Facebook treats users data, their policies for working with app developers, and how they exercise their dominant position in the social media market.
‘We don’t feel we have had straight answers from Facebook on these important issues, which is why we are releasing the documents.
‘We need a more public debate about the rights of social media users and the smaller businesses who are required to work with the tech giants. I hope that our committee investigation can stand up for them.’
The leak relates to a court case between Facebook, an app developer called Six4Three and its app Pinkini, which allowed users to find bikini photos among images uploaded by their friends.
The app was effectively killed when Facebook updated its privacy settings in 2015, and the company is now suing the social media giant.
As part of the legal proceedings, Six4Three was handed a trove of documents from Facebook related to its case, but was told to keep them private.
They were seized by Collins using an obscure parliamentary rule as a Six4Three executive was passing through London in November.
Reacting to the documents being published, a Facebook spokesman said: ‘As we’ve said many times, the documents Six4Three gathered for their baseless case are only part of the story and are presented in a way that is very misleading without additional context.
‘We stand by the platform changes we made in 2015 to stop a person from sharing their friends’ data with developers.
‘Like any business, we had many of internal conversations about the various ways we could build a sustainable business model for our platform.
‘But the facts are clear: we’ve never sold people’s data.’
Mr Zuckerberg was ’empty chaired’ by the grand committee last week after sent executive Richard Allan for the grilling instead.
Facebook had demanded the Six4Three papers published today be handed back without being opened by MPs or published.
Six4Three managing director Ted Kramer gave the documents to British authorities after being warned he could be banned from leaving the UK if he refused.
Mr Zuckerberg was ’empty chaired’ by the grand committee last week after sent executive Richard Allan for the grilling instead
In an extraordinary sequence of events, he ignored three demands for the emails before being personally served by a Serjeant at Arms and meeting Mr Collins in his Commons office.
MPs drew up the ‘unprecedented’ order to seize the documents after discovering that Mr Kramer was due to visit the UK.
Mr Kramer has claimed in court documents he ‘panicked’ while in the meeting with Mr Collins and his staff, meaning he copied documents from his cloud storage and onto a USB stick.
What are the accusations against Facebook?
Facebook is facing allegations from all over the work that it has been used to spread ‘fake news’, interfere with elections, and peddle hate.
It is also facing hugely damaging revelations of privacy data breaches among its accounts.
Here are some of the controversies it has been embroiled in:
‘Fake news’ and Russia
Facebook has come under the spotlight amid claims that Russian accounts used the platform to spread ‘fake news’ during the 2016 Brexit referendum.
In America, Russians accounts have been accused of using Facebook to harm Hilary Clinton’s prospects of being elected over Donald Trump.
In the UK, some have claimed that misleading information was used to promote Brexit in the run up to the 2016 referendum.
Cambridge Analytica Scandal:
The data of around 87 million Facebook users was harvested by the company Cambridge Analytica (CA).
It has been claimed CA used the information to assess peoples’ personalities and come up with political strategies to sway voters to back Brexit and Donald Trump.
Spread of extremism and hate
Facebook has been repeatedly criticised for not being quick enough to take extremist content down from its site.
Critics have warned that Facebook has become a safe haven for extremists who peddle hate and try to recruit jihadis to kill and maim.
But after seizing the documents, Mr Collins said: ‘Under UK law and parliamentary privilege we can publish papers if we choose to.
‘As you know we have asked many questions of Facebook about its policies on sharing user data.
‘I believe these documents may contain important information.’
In a statement issued after the committee hearing today, Facebook said of the claim that an engineer had flagged concerns about Russians trawling the site for data: ‘The engineers who had flagged these initial concerns subsequently looked into this further and found no evidence of specific Russian activity.’
Lord Allan has also urged Mr Collins not to reveal the documents. He warned Collins yesterday in an email that the documents are ‘sub judice before a court in California’ and are ‘sealed’.
Lord Allan is a Liberal Democrat peer and unlike previous Facebook witnesses at the House of Commons is an expert in Parliament’s procedures.
He spent eight years as MP for Sheffield Hallam and was succeeded by Nick Clegg, who has since been hired by Facebook since he lost the seat last year.
A US judge in California had ordered the files, obtained from Facebook via a legal discovery process, could not be revealed to the public earlier this year.
Mr Zuckerberg has repeatedly refused to attend the UK Parliament saying that he has already testified to Congress in the US and before the European Union.
‘It is not possible for Mr Zuckerberg to be available to all parliaments,’ the firm said.
Facebook said after the documents were seized: ‘The materials obtained by the DCMS committee are subject to a protective order of the San Mateo Superior Court restricting their disclosure.
‘We have asked the DCMS committee to refrain from reviewing them and to return them to counsel or to Facebook.
‘We have no further comment.’
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