by Eric Lieberman
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg had some of his communications retroactively deleted at some point in the past, the social media company essentially admitted in a statement to TechCrunch.
Such a benefit, even power, is not afforded to the average person, of course.
Facebook introduced a feature for its proprietary Messenger app in 2016 that empowered users with the ability to automatically delete records of certain messages after they are sent. But multiple people reportedly told TechCrunch that digital conversations they had directly with Zuckerberg before 2016 no longer existed, and not due to their own doing.
Facebook claims it was for cybersecurity reasons.
“After Sony Pictures’ emails were hacked in 2014 we made a number of changes to protect our executives’ communications,” the tech giant said in a statement sent to The Daily Caller News Foundation. “These included limiting the retention period for Mark’s messages in Messenger. We did so in full compliance with our legal obligations to preserve messages.”
No notifications of the removal were sent either publicly or to the specifically affected users. A Facebook spokesperson said that people can delete messages in their own inbox, but that the threads would still be accessible on the other party’s or parties’ account(s).
Messenger has around 1.3 billion users in the world, and while it may not be illegal for companies to delete data sent within a company, it’s not usual for them to delete certain data sent by people outside the company.
Nevertheless, Facebook’s concerns about compromised communications are not far-fetched after the aforementioned cyber infiltration led to the leaking of emails between the Sony CEO and a Snapchat board member. Snapchat’s once-secret information was exposed and exclusive future plans were revealed, even though the social media company wasn’t directly hacked.
Overall, by Zuckerberg and potentially other top executives being able to purge his online communications, and others not, it ostensibly shows a high appreciation of privacy. But after a slate of recent events and revelations in which Facebook has been accused of not caring about safeguarding users’ data, the news that the company granted its leader extra protections, and not all users, exhibits hypocrisy to some.
If not, it could at least show a slight disregard of internet norms, which traditionally respect that when messages are sent, the recipient also has ownership over the communications.
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