In what must have been a terrible week for the PR team at Facebook, the tech giant had in recent days only more bad news to share. Raising concerns about a possible breach of consumer law, users had reported that Facebook had deleted many of founder Mark Zuckerberg’s messages sent on Facebook Messanger. At present, users do not have the ability to delete their messages from their recipients’ chats.
Facebook said in a statement that this move was part of the steps to ensure security in communications following the breach of confidential data belonging to Sony Pictures. In this breach that took place in 2014, employee data from Sony Pictures including information about next-of-kin, e-mails between employees, salaries, and even copies of unreleased films were compromised.
As such, Facebook then “included limiting the retention period for Mark’s messages in Messenger”, maintaining that they “did so in full compliance with our legal obligations to preserve messages”. However, it must be noted that the company had not come forward to issue this admission independently, or informed any of the recipients of Mark’s messages privately – leading to the question if it indicates another breach of trust. It also indicates that the company has had the capacity and has set the precedent for the tampering of users’ private inboxes.
In an effort to quell the dissatisfaction, Facebook announced that the feature to delete (or “unsend”) messages will be made available to the general public shortly.
This comes in light of the Cambridge Analytica scandal that has hit headlines in the past weeks. In another revelation, Facebook has announced the suspension of Canadian advertising tech and audience intelligence company AggregateIQ (AIQ). AIQ has strong ties with SCL, the parent company of Cambridge Analytica, and had been deeply involved in political campaigns, most notably Brexit. Cambridge Analytica whistleblower Chris Wylie mentioned AIQ in an interview to the Guardian: it had been set up as a base for Canadian employees of SCL that did not want to move to London, and was set up as a shell to conduct SCL business remotely and covertly. Despite this, AIQ has maintained innocence, claiming on their website:
AggregateIQ has never been and is not a part of Cambridge Analytica or SCL. Aggregate IQ has never entered into a contract with Cambridge Analytica. Chris Wylie has never been employed by AggregateIQ. AggregateIQ has never managed, nor did we ever have access to, any Facebook data or database allegedly obtained improperly by Cambridge Analytica.
For quite a long time, AIQ had no website or number, and its sole customer for a duration was Cambridge Analytica.
Facebook, in the meantime, has tried to assuage hordes of angry users, entities and governments with a statement made to the National Oberver:
In light of recent reports that AggregateIQ may be affiliated with SCL and may, as a result, have improperly received (Facebook) user data, we have added them to the list of entities we have suspended from our platform while we investigate.