Legal Operations » Facebook Has No Idea Where Your Personal Data Is Kept

Facebook Has No Idea Where Your Personal Data Is Kept

Istanbul, Turkey - October 26, 2019: Marble Cube shape of popular social media services icons, including Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Youtube on black glass with green copy space

September 29, 2022

In a hearing for the ongoing lawsuit over mishandling private user information that stemmed from the Cambridge Analytica scandal, two veteran Facebook engineers were unable to respond to questions about the company’s sprawling data collection operations. The questions were aimed at resolving a single issue: What information does Facebook store about its users, and where is it? The engineers’ answer: They don’t know. The dispute is part of litigation now in its fourth year. Special master Daniel Garrie requested that Facebook provide a definitive accounting of where personal data might be stored in some 55 subsystems.

The company provided data consisting mostly of material that any user could obtain through the company’s publicly accessible “Download Your Information” tool. Facebook contended that any other data was outside the scope of the lawsuit. The judge in 2020 had disagreed. According to the two engineers, the company has never documented how each of its component systems works, what they do, or who’s using them. Is it possible that Facebook’s designated tool for downloading your information will not actually download all of it? This, like the answer to where Facebook data is stored, is outside the boundaries of knowledge.

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