STREAMING NOW: Watch Now

UK releases Facebook emails

A UK parliamentary committee has released more than 200 pages of internal Facebook emails the company fought to keep secret, including some sent by CEO Mark Zuckerberg.

Posted: Dec 7, 2018 12:43 AM
Updated: Dec 7, 2018 1:02 AM

Mark Zuckerberg and his colleagues were apparently concerned enough about Vine, a video app from Twitter, that on the day it launched in January 2013, they moved to restrict its access to Facebook user data, a trove of internal Facebook emails released by the U.K. Parliament on Wednesday shows.

The decision to restrict Vine's access to data, which would have allowed its users to invite their Facebook friends to join the app, was in line with a company policy at the time, Facebook told CNN on Wednesday. That policy restricted apps' access to Facebook data when the company deemed that the apps "replicated" Facebook's "core functionality." In other word, apps that Facebook thought might compete with them.

"Twitter launched Vine today which lets you shoot multiple short video segments to make one single, 6-second video," Facebook vice-president Justin Osofsky wrote to Zuckerberg and others the day Vine launched, according to the emails released by the UK Parliament.

"Unless anyone raises objections, we will shut down their friends API access today. We've prepared reactive PR," Osofsky added.

"Yup, go for it," Zuckerberg responded.

Facebook said Wednesday that Zuckerberg and his colleagues were only following Facebook's policy protecting against competitors. But the company changed the policy on Tuesday, one day before the emails were released.

"As part of our ongoing review we have decided that we will remove this out of date policy so that our platform remains as open as possible. We think this is the right thing to do as platforms and technology develop and grow," a Facebook spokesperson said Wednesday.

"We built our developer platform years ago to pave the way for innovation in social apps and services. At that time we made the decision to restrict apps built on top of our platform that replicated our core functionality," the spokesperson said, adding, "These kind of restrictions are common across the tech industry with different platforms having their own variant including YouTube, Twitter, Snap and Apple."

Vine, which allowed users to shoot and posts six second looped videos, shut down in 2017. Twitter did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Apparently responding to Wednesday's revelations, Vine co-founder Rus Yusupov tweeted, "Competition sucks, right? No. It allows for products to improve, become available to more people, at lower costs. Strive to build new things that people want and influence other creators for the cycle to continue."

Zuckerberg talks

The email discussion about Vine is part of a trove of internal Facebook documents the company fought to keep secret.

The documents include conversations among senior Facebook executives.

The cache stems from a lawsuit brought against Facebook by a small app company called Six4Three. In a blog post Wednesday, Facebook said "The documents were selectively leaked to publish some, but not all, of the internal discussions at Facebook."

Zuckerberg himself posted on Facebook as well, writing, "I understand there is a lot of scrutiny on how we run our systems. That's healthy given the vast number of people who use our services around the world, and it is right that we are constantly asked to explain what we do. But it's also important that the coverage of what we do -- including the explanation of these internal documents -- doesn't misrepresent our actions or motives. This was an important change to protect our community, and it achieved its goal."

The documents

A California judge had placed the documents under seal. But when Six4Three's CEO, Ted Kramer, was in London last month, he was escorted to Parliament and told to produce the documents or be held in contempt.

Six4Three — which had an app that allowed users to search for pictures of their friends in swimsuits — has accused the social media giant of having little regard for user privacy and claimed that Zuckerberg devised a plan that forced some of Facebook's rivals, or potential rivals, out of business. Facebook says the lawsuit is without merit.

The UK parliamentary committee, led by Damian Collins, asked for the documents as part of a larger investigation into Facebook, fake news, disinformation and data privacy that has been going on for more than a year. The committee has repeatedly asked Zuckerberg to give evidence, but thus far he's avoided the committee, even when it brought together lawmakers from nine different countries for an unprecedented "International Grand Committee on Disinformation."

"I believe there is considerable public interest in releasing these documents. They raise important questions about how Facebook treats users data, their policies for working with app developers, and how they exercise their dominant position in the social media market," Collins said on Twitter. "We don't feel we have had straight answers from Facebook on these important issues, which is why we are releasing the documents."

A Facebook spokesperson said in a statement after the release of the documents, "As we've said many times, the documents Six4Three gathered for their baseless case are only part of the story and are presented in a way that is very misleading without additional context. We stand by the platform changes we made in 2015 to stop a person from sharing their friends' data with developers. Like any business, we had many of internal conversations about the various ways we could build a sustainable business model for our platform. But the facts are clear: we've never sold people's data."

Correction: An earlier version of this story incorrectly reported the day on which the emails had been released.

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 119066

Reported Deaths: 3612
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Marion21563768
Lake10745324
Elkhart6734112
St. Joseph6679115
Allen6364205
Hamilton4965109
Vanderburgh384231
Hendricks2779124
Monroe267137
Tippecanoe259013
Johnson2362125
Clark226757
Porter222447
Delaware201162
Cass19589
Vigo187928
Madison171475
LaPorte151941
Warrick140743
Floyd140464
Howard133964
Kosciusko127117
Bartholomew119357
Marshall102124
Dubois100919
Boone99746
Grant96636
Hancock94843
Noble92932
Henry82226
Jackson77610
Wayne77314
Morgan73940
Shelby68329
Daviess68129
Dearborn67928
LaGrange64711
Clinton63414
Harrison59824
Putnam59011
Gibson5455
Knox5379
Lawrence51829
Montgomery51321
DeKalb49111
White48814
Decatur46139
Miami4394
Greene42936
Fayette42314
Jasper4032
Steuben3977
Scott39311
Posey3541
Sullivan33812
Jennings31712
Franklin31525
Clay3105
Ripley3108
Orange28724
Whitley2876
Carroll28013
Adams2773
Wabash2758
Starke2737
Washington2702
Wells2694
Spencer2683
Jefferson2523
Huntington2503
Fulton2462
Tipton22922
Randolph2238
Perry22213
Jay1920
Newton17411
Owen1711
Martin1690
Pike1691
Rush1584
Vermillion1320
Fountain1302
Blackford1223
Pulaski1141
Crawford1100
Parke1072
Brown1033
Benton860
Ohio797
Union790
Switzerland690
Warren411
Unassigned0227

Ohio Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 152907

Reported Deaths: 4783
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Franklin27283615
Cuyahoga17603657
Hamilton13340321
Montgomery7993166
Lucas7377364
Butler6151112
Summit5393252
Warren313649
Mahoning3114282
Marion311447
Stark2946175
Pickaway268445
Lorain234286
Delaware232821
Fairfield214654
Licking196063
Columbiana195180
Wood194273
Trumbull1921132
Clark185341
Clermont176123
Lake166051
Greene153634
Medina149339
Miami147652
Allen147372
Portage117766
Mercer113919
Erie96047
Tuscarawas94320
Wayne94268
Richland94119
Ross90426
Madison85512
Darke81144
Athens7402
Geauga73349
Hancock73110
Belmont72427
Lawrence68622
Shelby66910
Ashtabula66248
Auglaize62511
Putnam62523
Sandusky58720
Huron5727
Union5512
Scioto5287
Seneca49514
Ottawa47230
Muskingum4553
Preble44716
Holmes3999
Jefferson3424
Henry33715
Defiance33212
Champaign3143
Logan3143
Clinton30512
Perry3039
Fulton2991
Brown2923
Knox28915
Jackson2667
Washington26323
Morrow2622
Hardin25713
Ashland2484
Crawford2486
Coshocton23511
Fayette2346
Highland2313
Williams2163
Wyandot21512
Pike2040
Gallia19713
Meigs17711
Guernsey1748
Hocking1679
Carroll1527
Adams1374
Van Wert1283
Paulding1130
Monroe11018
Harrison643
Morgan500
Vinton483
Noble350
Unassigned00
Fort Wayne
Overcast
59° wxIcon
Hi: 61° Lo: 43°
Feels Like: 59°
Angola
Clear
59° wxIcon
Hi: 60° Lo: 44°
Feels Like: 59°
Huntington
Overcast
56° wxIcon
Hi: 62° Lo: 42°
Feels Like: 56°
Decatur
Overcast
61° wxIcon
Hi: 61° Lo: 42°
Feels Like: 61°
Van Wert
Overcast
61° wxIcon
Hi: 61° Lo: 42°
Feels Like: 61°
Few Showers Wednesday
WFFT Radar
WFFT Temperatures
WFFT National

Community Events