Facebook orders staff to preserve communications as legal threats loom

Social media giant asked for ‘legal hold’ in company wide email

Graeme Massie
Los Angeles
Wednesday 27 October 2021 23:25
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Facebook has told its employees to preserve all internal documents and communications since 2016 for legal reasons as governments have started looking into its operations.

The social media giant announced the “legal hold” in a company wide email amid increased scrutiny on the platform’s operations by lawmakers.

Facebook’s practices have been under fire since whistleblower Frances Haugen, a former employee, provided thousands of documents to politicians and the media.

Ms Haugen, who worked on the company’s civic misinformation team for two years, told Congress that the company always chose profit over the safety of its users and was aware of the spread of misinformation.

And she said Facebook had hidden research which showed that teenagers felt worse about themselves after using the company’s products.

“As you are probably aware, we’re currently the focus of extensive media coverage based on a swath of internal documents,” Facebook said in the email on Tuesday to employees, according to The New York Times.

“As is often the case following this kind of reporting, a number of inquiries from governments and legislative bodies have been launched into the company’s operations.”

Earlier this month, Senate Commerce Committee Chair Maria Cantwell, demanded that CEO Mark Zuckerberg preserved all documents related to the testimony given by Ms Haugen.

“On Tuesday, Facebook sent a legal hold notice to all personnel. Document preservation requests are part of the process of responding to legal inquiries,” a Facebook spokesperson confirmed.

But not all parts of Facebook’s business have been included in the hold.

“You do not need to preserve documents or communications that are exclusively about WhatsApp as a company product,” the email said.

“You must preserve all WhatsApp messages related to other topics.”

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