A 2010 New Yorker profile of Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg could haunt him now amid Cambridge Analytica news. The profile, written by Jose Antonio Vargas, details a leaked exchange between the Facebook creator and a friend who wasn’t identified. Zuckerberg, who never disputed the tasteless conversation, later on said he “absolutely” regretted the chat.
The chat log was first leaked to the technology website Silicon Alley Insider and depicted instant messages from Zuckerberg in which he brags to an unnamed friend about having unfettered access to the data of “any” Harvard student. When the friend asks Zuckerberg how he gained such access, the social network creator cruelly mocked people’s supposed naivete.
“Yeah, so if you ever need [information] about anyone at Harvard, just ask,” Zuckerberg said to the unidentified friend. He added, “I have 4000 emails, pictures, addresses, [and] SNS.” The friend sounds surprised in response and asks, “What!? How’d you manage that one?” Zuckerberg replied, “People just submitted it. I don’t know why. They ‘trust me.'” He then said, “Dumb f***s.”
Zuckerberg’s insensitive commentary could cause him even more legal and social trouble as recent reports point to accusations of data harvesting and manipulation by Cambridge Analytica. For about a year, the United Kingdom-based data analytics consulting firm has gained notoriety as some allege that it played a psychological role in both Donald Trump’s victory in the United States and the United Kingdom’s Brexit campaign.
Now, both companies are under even more global fury after former Cambridge Analytica employee, Christopher Wylie, blew the whistle on the company and accused Facebook of allowing Cambridge Analytica to access, scrape, and harvest around 50 million users’ personal data through personality quizzes. Both Cambridge Analytica and Facebook deny misconduct.
In spite of denying wrongdoing, the leaked chat shows that Zuckerberg not only enjoyed complete and unquestionable access to the deeply personal data of unsuspecting users, he also ridiculed people’s trust in him.