- An investigation by Wired published Tuesday said Facebook employees were asked to monitor a CNN camera crew during an interview with CEO Mark Zuckerberg last year after news of the Cambridge Analytica scandal broke.
- Employees were told to follow the crew members to the bathroom and treated them as “potential spies,” Wired said.
- Facebook told Wired that this was not company protocol.
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A bombshell report from Wired investigating 15 months of hell for Facebook reveals how the company reacted to the news of the Cambridge Analytica privacy scandal in March 2018.
According to Wired’s report, published Tuesday, Facebook descended into chaos after a former Cambridge Analytica employee, Christopher Wylie, blew the whistle on a data breach that Facebook has said affected as many as 87 million users.
It took Facebook five days to respond to those reports.
“We had hundreds of reporters flooding our inboxes, and we had nothing to tell them,” a member of the communications team at that time told Wired. “I remember walking to one of the cafeterias and overhearing other Facebookers say, ‘Why aren’t we saying anything? Why is nothing happening?'”
Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook’s chief operating officer, told Wired that “those five days were very, very long” and that the company’s late response was a mistake.
Eventually, Facebook offered CNN a television interview with CEO Mark Zuckerberg. Wired said Facebook snubbed CBS and PBS and gave the interview to Laurie Segall, whom Facebook comms executives “trusted to be reasonably kind.”
During the interview, Zuckerberg apologized to users for the first time:
But the company was still on edge – so much so that a communications official told Wired they were required to monitor the CNN camera crew members at all times, even when they went to the bathroom.
“The network’s camera crews were treated like potential spies,” Wired said.
Facebook did not immediately respond to Business Insider’s request for comment but told Wired that this is not company protocol.
Segal said on Twitter that Facebook staff never actually followed her crew “into” the bathroom.
Some clarity here, we were definitely escorted everywhere but my producer doesn’t remember anyone going into the bathroom with him. https://t.co/pMixHLZ71K
— Laurie Segall (@LaurieSegall) April 16, 2019
Many companies escort outside visitors wherever they go inside their offices, including the bathrooms. It’s likely that’s what Facebook’s staff did with the CNN crew, waiting for the visitors outside the restrooms, but not actually accompanying them into the lavatory.