According to a leaked internal document obtained by Motherboard, Facebook is surprisingly hazy on what it does with the data it collects on its users — or what it’s even doing with it.
And that’s a big problem. The company, which has earned a reputation for its careless safekeeping of the wealth of data it’s been hoarding for years, has to abide by a “tsunami” of new privacy rules being implemented by governments across the globe, according to the memo.
The document, which dates back to last year, was put together by Facebook’s Ad and Business Product team. That team, for context, takes care of the social media network’s massive ad system, which also happens to be Facebook’s largest source of revenue.
But things have become quite the mess, according to the leaked memo.
“We do not have an adequate level of control and explainability over how our systems use data, and thus we can’t confidently make controlled policy changes or external commitments such as ‘we will not use X data for Y purpose,'” the document reads. “And yet, this is exactly what regulators expect us to do, increasing our risk of mistakes and misrepresentation.”
In short, engineers have no idea where the data goes, which is a problem if they want to make sure they follow the rules set out by regulators.
For instance, Europe’s Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), one of the most comprehensive attempts by governments to limit Big Tech’s control over the data it collects on its citizens, stipulates data must be only collected and used for a “specified, explicit and legitimate purposes” and cannot be repurposed.
But that’s something Facebook has been doing for years, for instance using phone numbers it collects for contact information to enable two-factor authentication for security purposes as well.
Predictably, the company denied any wrongdoing.
“Considering this document does not describe our extensive processes and controls to comply with privacy regulations, it’s simply inaccurate to conclude that it demonstrates non-compliance,” a spokesperson told Motherboard.
Yet it did seem to strike a nerve. A former Facebook employee told the publication that “where [the data] goes part is, broadly speaking, a complete shitshow.”
READ MORE: Facebook Doesn’t Know What It Does With Your Data, Or Where It Goes: Leaked Document [Motherboard]