Saying that Facebook has a problem with data may seem like a catch phrase, given the number of leaks and misuses of data that we have learned about over the years. But no, this time it’s not the same, and it’s also much worse. And it is that on previous occasions, the explanation that we have received from Meta, before Facebook, was that the attackers had detected a specific problem, something quite different from what is planned on this occasion.
And it is that in a leaked document, to which Motherboard has had access, an engineering team of the company affirms that Facebook has no control over how it uses your data and, consequently, does not know who it can reach.. And I repeat, because this is a fundamental point, this revelation has its origin in a confidential report made by engineers from the company itself, that is, those who should best know how it works and, therefore, who can speak with a higher level of ownership. about it.
In the document, which you can read here, those responsible for it echo the regulatory movements that are taking place around the world, and categorically state that at the time of writing the report, Facebook would be totally unable to adapt to such rules. And it is that both due to the volume and the various levels of classification of the data handled by the social network, we are talking about a particularly complex scenario, and that at least until that moment the company has not been able to solve.
At one point in the document, a metaphor is proposed that seems particularly lucid to me, and that is that in its current situation, trying to identify the route followed by data that has come out of Facebook is similar to attempting to retrieve the contents of a previously emptied ink pot into a lake. But we also find a much more literal description:
«We do not have an adequate level of control and explainability over how data is used by our systems, and therefore cannot make confidently controlled policy changes or external commitments such as ‘we will not use X data for Y purpose’. And yet, this is exactly what regulators expect us to do, increasing our risk of mistakes.”.
There is one point, in particular, that I think is worth highlighting, and that is that, as we can see, the main concern for Facebook is being able to adapt to the new regulatory frameworks. And this concern is understandable, of course, because if they don’t adapt to the same Meta in general and Facebook in particular, they could face million-dollar sanctions, and maybe even a ban on offering their services in said jurisdictions.
What seems paradigmatic to me, although at this point I am no longer surprised, is that his concern has to do with the fine he could have to face for spilling ink, but not because of the rest of the implications of said situation. And it is that in recent years we have seen how Facebook filled their mouths talking about respect and care for privacy, but it seems that despite this they have not had the time, or the interest, to put an end to this situation, reformulating the management of the data.
And since a cake without a truffle is just a cake, in the report we can read that the engineers, after analyzing the situation and reaching such dire conclusions, proposed an alternative system to solve this problem, that is, a solution. And his proposal went through implement it upon arrival in January 2022, which indicates that it could be carried out within a reasonable time. And yet, as we can read, today it is still not operational. So, excluding the technical reason, we only have one other explanation left, and you know exactly what it is.