A weeks-old internal memo from a Facebook employee with knowledge of a protest rally that occurred Jan. 6 alleges that the data breach that has shaken the company contributed to the incident, BuzzFeed News reported Thursday.
In the internal memo, obtained by BuzzFeed News, the Facebook employee alleges that a segment of the event’s target audience, which included teenage boys, had somehow become part of the Facebook segment and that, subsequently, “organizers inside the venue sent direct messages to members of the network, encouraging them to join the protest.”
“This is precisely why the Facebook platform was used for this event,” the memo, allegedly written by one of the protesters on behalf of the company, continued. “This helps further show the efficacy of Facebook in real-time.”
The memo, which appears to have been written just weeks before the group’s rally, alleges that the online presence of the rally-goers played a significant role in organizing it. (See screenshot above.)
The memo also notes that one organizer came up with the concept of holding the rally outside the Palo Alto library (which resulted in it being removed from the city’s calendar on grounds that it conflicted with a date that in fact blocked off the protesters from public space).
Reached for comment by the Los Angeles Times, a Facebook spokeswoman said that the company would be “happy to work with anyone from the [Mother Jones] group, or any group of its size, to talk with us about what we can do to make their events more valuable and help them organize better.”
BuzzFeed News described the memo as anonymous, and said it had spoken to the writer but asked not to be identified because he or she feared retaliation by the company.
Lawyers with The Hill, a site which has previously been connected to the author of the memo, declined to comment and would not confirm that the memo is genuine.
Facebook is now facing a broader backlash after the company announced that data was accessed by Cambridge Analytica, a data analytics firm known for helping Donald Trump’s presidential campaign in 2016. The company’s stock plummeted more than 8 percent when the bombshell announcement was made on Monday.
With regulators investigating the breach, a group of Facebook employees sent a strongly worded letter to CEO Mark Zuckerberg on Wednesday to express their concerns and ask the company to reconsider its continued data sharing with third-party apps.
Facebook users around the world also joined forces on Wednesday to urge Zuckerberg to come to a public session in London this Friday and explain how the scandal could have been prevented. The protest comes as Zuckerberg prepares to testify before a congressional committee in the United States on April 10 and 11.