Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg arrives to testify before a joint hearing of the US Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee and Senate Judiciary Committee on Capitol Hill, April 10, 2018 in Washington, DC.
Jim Watson | AFP | Getty Images
Newly released documents appear to shed light on when Facebook first learned about potential violations by Cambridge Analytica, the firm that used Facebook data to profile and target voters in the 2016 U.S. election.
The internal communication refers to concerns over Cambridge Analytica as early as Sept. 2015. In the documents, employees discuss Cambridge Analytica and other third parties that it had been warned were using its data in ways that may violate its policies. The employees said they were reaching out to the companies in question to investigate their use of Facebook data.
The documents show that Facebook was aware of potential policy violations by Cambridge Analytica as early as September 2015. Facebook said in a blog post explaining the documents that at that time, “a Facebook employee shared unsubstantiated rumors from a competitor of Cambridge Analytica, which claimed that the data analytics company was scraping public data.”
In the documents, one employee suggests keeping the issue “open” and say they will work on “a more business friendly description” of its third party data collection and usage policies.
Later in the communication, one of the employees called the Cambridge Analytica situation “hi pri” for high priority after The Guardian ran its December 2015 article claiming the presidential campaign for Sen. Ted Cruz, R-TX was using data on Facebook users largely without their consent.
Facebook released a blog post Friday claiming the document “has the potential to confuse two different events surrounding our knowledge of Cambridge Analytica.” Facebook included a link to the same email correspondence in the post, which it said it agreed to jointly release with the District of Columbia Attorney General.
Reached for comment, Facebook referred back to its blog post. The office of the D.C. Attorney General did not immediately return a request for comment.
This story is developing.