New emails uncovered by Facebook appear to show that founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg was aware of problematic privacy practices before they were publicized, the Wall Street Journal reported Wednesday.
The emails were reportedly unearthed while Facebook was in the process of responding to a continuing federal privacy investigation launched last year by the Federal Trade Commission. The emails in question reportedly show that Zuckerberg did not take regulators demands seriously and, in turn, did not thoroughly comply with a 2012 agreement with the FTC in which the company agreed to better protect user privacy.
Facebook executives are reportedly concerned that, if the emails were to be made public, they would threaten the company's efforts to reach a pending settlement with the FTC. Facebook also does not want Zuckerberg to be held personally liable as part of a settlement, according to people familiar with the matter. If a settlement cannot be reached, the FTC may resort to suing Facebook—a move that poses risks for both sides. The FTC could likely accomplish more substantive changes at Facebook through a settlement; for Facebook, litigation would make the publication of the emails more likely, potentially casting doubt on their renewed commitment to privacy.