Facebook’s ‘Rat-Catching Team’ Spies On Employees: Report

By Ethan Baron
The Mercury News

WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) A new report in the Guardian reveals Facebook uses online and real-world surveillance and legal threats to prevent and identify leaks that could jeopardize company secrets or involve criminal activity.

The Mercury News

Silicon Valley’s tech giants are famously secretive, after all their proprietary products and services are worth billions, but a new report alleges that Facebook goes to Orwellian lengths to keep its workers from talking out of turn, even about their working conditions.

One Facebook employee was told he was led to expect a promotion, but instead was taken into a room where members of the Menlo Park social media giant’s “rat-catching team” were waiting to interrogate him over an “innocuous” leak to the media, according to the report.

“You get on their bad side and all of a sudden you are face to face with Mark Zuckerberg’s secret police,” the unidentified man told The Guardian, referring to Facebook’s CEO.

The man’s grilling was a mere technicality, the news outlet reported.

“They already knew he was guilty of leaking. They had records of a screenshot he’d taken, links he had clicked or hovered over, and they strongly indicated they had accessed chats between him and the journalist, dating back to before he joined the company.”

Facebook uses online and real-world surveillance and legal threats to prevent and identify leaks that could jeopardize company secrets or involve criminal activity, The Guardian reported.

“However, those same tools are also used to catch employees and contractors who talk publicly, even if it’s about their working conditions, misconduct or cultural challenges within the company,” according to The Guardian.

A Facebook spokeswoman told the news outlet that companies “routinely use business records in workplace investigations, and we are no exception.”

For Facebook, part of the problem is the amount of company information that is shared with employees, and that trust is a double-edged sword, according to the report.

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