According to Facebook, it takes a team of people to explain to you what information the firm has on you. Also where Facebook keeps it, just as it takes a village to raise a child.
Two Facebook engineers were questioned on what user information the firm retains about its users and where they are in the transcript of a hearing. The transcript was just made public by “Discovery Special Master” Daniel Garrie, an expert designated by the court.
Eugene Zarashaw and Steven Elia, two seasoned Facebook engineers were present at the hearing. These engineers could not provide Garrie with satisfactory answers to his requests for Facebook and disclose where personal data is housed in its 55 subsystems.
The transcript quotes Zarashaw as saying, “I don’t believe there’s a single individual that exists who could answer that question.”
“To even be able to answer that question would require a considerable team effort.”
This story’s original source, The Intercept, cited Garrie’s apparent disbelief over the obvious queries that went unanswered. However, Dina El-Kassaby, a spokesman for Meta, isn’t surprised by the engineers’ incapability to provide definitive answers regarding the location of Facebook user data. She stated in a statement: “Our systems are sophisticated, so it shouldn’t come as a surprise that no single business engineer can satisfactorily address every inquiry regarding the location of every piece of customer information”.
“In order to monitor data use across our operations and to properly manage and secure people’s data. We have developed one of the most thorough privacy procedures.
To fulfill our responsibilities and obligations regarding privacy, we have made considerable investments, which include stringent data controls.”
The facebook programmers’ ignorance of the whereabouts of user data supports a claim made in a leaked internal paper from April 2022 that Facebook is unable to determine the origin or final destination of all the data it collects.
In 2021 Facebook privacy engineers and part of the team created this confidential paper. These engineers were responsible for developing and maintaining the social network’s ad system, the Ad and Business Product team.
We lack sufficient levels of control and explainability over how our systems use data. It is also a bit difficult to make external commitments. These include “we will not use X data for Y purpose” or changing controlled policies with confidence. As a part of, the regulations we perform in this manner, these raised the errors and deception read the document.