While today marks the start of Facebook’s annual F8 developer conference, the company is also busy dealing with a number of other recent issues. First, there was WhatsApp co-founder Jan Koum’s announcement that he is leaving, reportedly due to clashes with Facebook over privacy concerns. Now, the social network is investigating allegations that one of its engineers used the firm’s data to stalk women online.
The accusations arrived yesterday in the form of a tweet from Spyglass Security founder Jackie Stokes. "I've been made aware that a security engineer currently employed at Facebook is likely using privileged access to stalk women online," she wrote. "I have Tinder logs. What should I do with this information?"
I really, really hope I’m wrong about this. pic.twitter.com/NDkOptx8Hv— Jackie Stokes (@find_evil) April 30, 2018
Facebook confirmed it was aware of Stokes’ allegations and was investigating, but said it couldn’t comment on any individual personal matters.
"We maintain strict technical controls and policies to restrict employee access to user data," Facebook said, in a statement. "Access is scoped by job function, and designated employees are only allowed to access the amount of information that's necessary to carry out their job responsibilities, such as responding to bug reports, account support inquiries, or valid legal requests.”
"We have a zero-tolerance approach to abuse, and improper behavior results in termination," the company added.
While we don't know all the details, the situation comes at a time when Facebook’s approach to how it handles user information is being put under a microscope. The Cambridge Analytica scandal that saw Mark Zuckerberg appear before Congress is still fresh in people’s minds, and Koum’s decision to leave the company he co-founded was partly a result of Facebook's privacy policies, though it was made before the current data harvesting crisis.
Accusations that a Facebook worker was using their access to company data to stalk women mirrors similar allegations made against Uber in 2016. A lawsuit from one of the ride-hailing firm’s former workers claimed some employees monitored the accounts of “high profile politicians, celebrities, and even personal acquaintances,” including ex-partners.