Facebook says it will move to encrypted, auto-deleting messages — and warns that some countries might decide to ban it (FB)

facebook ceo mark zuckerberg gesture

  • Facebook says it will make messages auto-delete and encrypted by default.
  • In a blog post published Wednesday, CEO Mark Zuckerberg said the company wanted to become a “privacy-focused communications platform.”
  • Zuckerberg said Facebook would also refuse to store user data in countries with records of human-rights abuses, even if it means Facebook’s services are banned as a result.

Facebook says it plans to move to encrypted, auto-deleting messages on its services by default as part of a broader strategic shift — even if the changes mean some countries decide to ban its service.

In a 3,000-word blog post published Wednesday on Facebook, CEO Mark Zuckerberg said the company wanted to focus on being a “privacy-focused communications platform.”

The announcement came amid Facebook attempts to move past a string of damaging scandals around user privacy (as well as other issues), including the Cambridge Analytica scandal and the hack of tens of millions of users’ data.

“I believe the future of communication will increasingly shift to private, encrypted services where people can be confident what they say to each other stays secure and their messages and content won’t stick around forever,” Zuckerberg wrote. “This is the future I hope we will help bring about.”

As such, Zuckerberg said Facebook would encrypt users’ messages end to end, meaning Facebook itself, law enforcement, and anybody else can’t read them; make messages ephemeral, “so we won’t keep messages or stories around for longer than necessary to deliver the service or longer than people want them”; partially merge Facebook’s apps so users can message one another from any of them (a move first reported by The New York Times); and refuse to store data in countries “with weak records on human rights like privacy and freedom of expression.”

Facebook already end-to-end encrypts messages for WhatsApp by default and provides it as an opt-in feature for Messenger, as well as auto-deletes messages. But Zuckerberg said that would become the default for all of Facebook’s messaging products.

Privacy advocates are likely to hail the move, but it may prove controversial in other quarters. Some in law enforcement have repeatedly railed against the difficulties that end-to-end encryption can create for investigations. And Facebook’s inability to moderate encrypted chats on WhatsApp has led to organized disinformation campaigns ahead of Brazil’s presidential election and is said to have helped spread hoaxes that led to lynchings in India.

“I understand that many people don’t think Facebook can or would even want to build this kind of privacy-focused platform — because frankly we don’t currently have a strong reputation for building privacy protective services, and we’ve historically focused on tools for more open sharing,” Zuckerberg wrote.

“But we’ve repeatedly shown that we can evolve to build the services that people really want, including in private messaging and stories.”

Refusing to store user data in certain countries could frustrate some local governments, as the past few years have seen a push toward tech companies storing users’ data in the countries where those users reside. Zuckerberg acknowledged that the move may even get Facebook’s services banned in some parts of the world.

“Upholding this principle may mean that our services will get blocked in some countries, or that we won’t be able to enter others anytime soon,” he wrote. “That’s a tradeoff we’re willing to make. We do not believe storing people’s data in some countries is a secure enough foundation to build such important internet infrastructure on.”

It’s not clear exactly when all of this will happen. Zuckerberg didn’t give a concrete timeline, saying only that “over the next few years, we plan to rebuild more of our services around these ideas.”

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Car-bomb fears and stolen prototypes: Inside Facebook's efforts to protect its 80,000 workers around the globe (FB)

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  • Facebook has a 6,000-person security army quietly protecting its tens of thousands of employees worldwide.
  • The challenges they face are immense — from stalkers to stolen prototypes, car-bomb fears, gang violence, and concerns about state-sponsored espionage.
  • Business Insider spoke with current and former Facebook employees about the wild hidden world of Silicon Valley corporate security.
  • Thousands of people turn up at Facebook’s offices every week to complain about their accounts, attempt to sneak in, ask for tours, or try to meet CEO Mark Zuckerberg.
  • Defenses include plain-clothes officers with firearms to location tracking of blacklisted people, and there are rumors of a secret escape passageway.

When a disgruntled YouTube user opened fire with a semiautomatic pistol at the company’s California headquarters in April 2018, injuring three, the gunshots reverberated across Silicon Valley.

At Facebook, just a 30-minute drive away, the company sprang into action and quietly redoubled its defenses. The Menlo Park-based social-networking firm drastically upped the number of off-duty police officers who covertly patrol its halls in civilian clothes with concealed firearms. Few employees even know these officers exist, and the move spooked some of the workers who subsequently noticed them.

And it spent about $1 million to bolster its vehicle fleet with more than 30 new Toyota RAV4 hybrid SUVs for its security organization with which to patrol its Bay Area offices, only to leave them sitting in a garage for months, unused, as the company deliberated about how they should be branded. (It’s unclear whether they’re in action now.)

If it sounds like a small army, that’s because in many ways it is.

Silicon Valley’s founding principles of freedom and nonconformism created a province of open-plan offices and sprawling university-like campuses that have since been emulated throughout the corporate world.

But within Silicon Valley’s tech companies today, there’s a more hardheaded reality hiding just below this idyllic surface. At a time when tech brands and leaders have become objects of public fascination and, in some cases, outright hostility, and in the wake of the YouTube shooting, tech companies like Facebook have no choice but to erect ever-more sophisticated, and expensive, fortifications.

For shareholders it means shouldering ever heavier costs, often tens of millions of dollars, for the protection of top company executives and facilities security. Within Facebook, it means empowering a 6,000-person shadow workforce whose day-to-day experiences provide a revealing window into another side of Silicon Valley, far removed from app marketing plans and machine-learning conferences: a secret world of stalkers, stolen prototypes, car-bomb fears, earthquake-contingency plans, gang violence, and concerns about state-sponsored espionage.

Business Insider spoke with current and former workers in Facebook’s security organization and others familiar with the matter, obtained internal company documents, reviewed court documents, and surveyed publicly available information about how the company handles its security.

These sources described sophisticated logistical challenges in protecting tens of thousands of employees and contract workers every day — and an underlying tension between the techie ideals of openness and engineer freedom and the realities of protecting a high-profile and increasingly controversial multinational firm.

“As a security guy, you can buy Fort Knox tomorrow, but that’s not going to fly in a tech environment,” said a former member of Facebook’s security team. “You create policies and barriers and processes so you’re the friendliest you can be while as safe as you can be.” (Sources were granted anonymity as they weren’t authorized to speak publicly about their experiences.)

Some of what Facebook’s security team deals with are prosaic issues, the kind you’d find at any major company: petty thefts, car accidents, and medical emergencies. But Facebook’s unprecedented influence on civil society and billions of people’s daily lives around the world means it also faces one-of-a-kind security challenges. People swarm to Facebook’s offices by the thousands, whether that’s to try to look around, attempt to give unsolicited pitches to company executives, or air grievances.

And then there’s one of the most important challenges of all: protecting Mark Zuckerberg.

facebook security car

Protecting the principal

When CEO Mark Zuckerberg first got 24/7 executive protection, there was a problem: He kept wandering off.

Sources said that in the early 2010s, the world-famous Facebook cofounder didn’t always keep the team — initially just one person — in the loop on his plans. He might decide on a whim to leave the office, or go for a jog, or to a bar, leaving his security staff scrambling to keep up.

“He was in his mid-20s … he was developing a platform he truly believed was good … at the time he didn’t grasp the concept that there were haters out there,” one source said.

Since then, however, Zuckerberg has grown more accepting of executive protection’s constant presence, according to insiders. His closely monitored patterns of life now far more closely resemble a head of state than a typical 34-year-old engineer, with the stricter security practices mirroring the increase in Facebook’s own fortifications over the years.

Armed executive-protection officers stand on constant guard outside his gated homes in the Bay Area (at least one of which also has a panic room). If he goes to a bar, his team will sweep through ahead of time to make sure it’s safe. They will vet any new doctors or trainers if he wants to take up a new hobby. He is driven everywhere, with the security team monitoring traffic and adjusting his route accordingly. (Back when he still drove, Zuckerberg was, in the words of one source, a “shitty driver.”)

During company all-hands meetings, members of Zuckerberg’s Praetorian Guard sit at the front of the room and are dotted throughout the crowd, just in case an employee tries to rush him. They wear civilian clothes to blend in with nonsecurity employees.

Zuckerberg historically hasn’t worked in a cordoned-off office like a traditional corporate executive. Instead, his regular desk is on the floor of Facebook’s open-plan office, just like everyone else — but protection officers sit near his desk while he works, in case of security threats. Facebook’s offices are built above an employee parking lot, but it’s impossible to park directly beneath Zuckerberg’s desk, because of concerns about the risk of car bombs.

He also has access to a large glass-walled conference room in the middle of the space near his desk, which features bullet-resistant windows and a panic button. There’s also a persistent rumor among Facebook employees that he has a secret “panic chute” his team can evacuate him down to get him out of the office in a hurry. The truth of the matter remains murky: One source said they had been briefed about the existence of a secret exit route through the floor of the conference room into the parking garage, but others said they had no knowledge of it. Facebook declined to comment on the rumor.

facebook zuckerberg guards

All told, there are now more than 70 people on the executive-protection team at Facebook, led by former US Secret Service special agent Jill Leavens Jones. Last July, Facebook’s board approved a $10 million security allowance for Zuckerberg and his family for the year.

And with good reason: The billionaire chief exec lives an extraordinarily public life, with 118 million followers on Facebook alone (making him both an icon of Facebook’s ideals and, increasingly, a magnet for public ire following his company’s recent scandals), and the threats he faces are severe.

He receives numerous death threats a week, and the security team actively monitors social media for mentions of him and his chief operating officer, Sheryl Sandberg. The pair also have stalkers, who alternately declare their undying love for the execs or harbor worrying vendettas against them.

Zuckerberg and Sandberg are the only two Facebook execs with 24/7 protection, though others may get it for specific occasions like traveling. The pair have amusing security code names, which Business Insider is not publishing for security reasons.

The CEO has been forced to get restraining orders against people obsessively following and trying to contact him in multiple instances. In one notable incident, in 2015, a local, William Gordon Kinzer, repeatedly turned up outside Zuckerberg’s house over a period of weeks and aggressively harassed the security officers, according to court documents. “On May 30, 2015, at approximately 9:39 a.m., I was seated in my car … Kinzer stopped at the passenger side of my window, looked directly at me and yelled loudly, ‘Stay in your car like a good little monkey and obey the law,'” one security officer testified. “Kinzer then turned and walked away. Kinzer appeared angry and aggressive. I was concerned for my safety.”

Sandberg was once stalked by an employee who sent her a barrage of messages. Even after the employee was fired and blacklisted, she would still show up at campus occasionally, a source said. (Facebook declined to comment on this and many of the other incidents detailed in this story.) Such stalkers are classified as “BOLOs,” short for “Be On the Look Out,” a category of person barred from all Facebook property. If BOLOs use Facebook or the other apps the company owns, the security team may quietly use data drawn from these apps to monitor their location without telling them, as CNBC previously reported.

In one surreal episode, someone turned up outside Zuckerberg’s house with a love letter scrawled across the side of their truck, a source recalled. Security officers initially assumed it was directed at the CEO — but it was actually for the benefit of one of the housekeeping staff.

Pranks and political stunts are another concern: High-profile execs make prime targets, as Microsoft cofounder Bill Gates infamously discovered when he had a pie thrown in his face in Brussels in 1998. Any time Zuckerberg goes out in public, there are concerns he could be mobbed, and his appearances at events are carefully planned and mapped out.

People will also send unsolicited presents to his home — everything from cookies to a gift from a rabbi after the birth of one of his children. (These get sent to the security team for inspection; Zuckerberg doesn’t open them himself.)

In Facebook’s offices, things are less intense, but employees will still rush to get the seats at meetings closest to Zuckerberg. Executive-protection officers are instructed to be alert for employees and guests at the offices trying to take unauthorized photos of Zuckerberg, which is against the rules. Some employees, too, will try to give him gifts.

facebook stairwell and carpark

‘Move fast and break things’ isn’t always the best approach to security

Today, Facebook has 40,000 full-time employees, but its total workforce is far higher.

More than 80,000 personnel around the globe (including contractors and contingent workers who don’t necessarily get the same benefits as full-time employees) fall under the protection of the global security team’s protection, across 160-plus facilities ranging from engineering offices to data centers to content moderation centers, in more than 100 countries.

To handle this, the company has an army of security officers.

There are more than 6,000 people working in global security (500 of those are full-time employees, the rest contractors and contingent workers), with more than 1,000 security officers working at the Bay Area offices alone — patrolling on foot, in vehicles, with sniffer dogs, and on bikes (“Fox Units”). For context, Snapchat parent company Snap has only 3,000 employees total. Twitter has just under 4,000.

Among the third-party contractors it leans heavily on to provide security officers and intelligence analysts for its workforce are Allied Universal, G4S, and Pinkerton. Facebook also funds a Menlo Park Police Department substation near its offices, and works closely with local law enforcement and emergency services.

There are five key strands to Facebook’s security efforts. Most visibly, there are the global security services, Facebook’s legions of security officers (“blue shirts”) and its global security operations centers (more on those later). And there’s global security intelligence and investigations, which handles investigations and streams of intelligence.

Then there are the global security strategic initiatives, which look at risks as the business grows (Is this a high-risk area for expansion? Is building here really a good idea?); systems and technology (think keycards, security cameras, and the software that keeps it all humming along); and the executive-protection team.

Like the rest of Facebook, global security is a ravenous consumer of data, slurping up vast streams of intelligence, which range from open source information to third-party data streams, from media reports about breaking news events to dark-web marketplaces that might be selling the company’s intellectual property — and, of course, users’ posts on Facebook itself.

It’s an “intelligence-based organization,” trying to sift through a flood of noise to identify and mitigate issues ahead of time, and it identifies millions of “threats” to the workforce every year, from natural disasters to threats of violence against employees, of varying levels of credibility.

facebook reception desk 2

Atop it all sits Nick Lovrien, a former CIA counterintelligence officer who serves as Facebook’s chief global security officer. Lovrien, who worked to tackle foreign-fighter pipelines in the Middle East, credits the early-2010s upheaval in the region as opening his eyes to Facebook’s capabilities.

“I was in Iraq … we were doing missions, three, four a night, trying to cut [the foreign-fighter pipeline] off and during this time … it was the start of the Arab Uprising, and I saw the power of social media,” he told Business Insider in an interview.

(Lovrien in turn reports to John Tenanes, Facebook’s vice president of culinary, facilities, and security, who reports to chief financial officer David Wehner.)

Facebook “is the critical infrastructure for modern-day democracy, and that’s why we’re so focused on the integrity of the platform, the safety and security of that platform. What that does is bring unique risks to Facebook as well,” Lovrien said.

In short, protecting Facebook is a monumental task, and not always one that’s been made easier by the company’s internal philosophy.

Though it has moved away from it in recent years, Facebook was historically famous for its motto of “move fast and break things.” The company emphasized speed and initiative; if something didn’t quite work out, it could always be fixed later. But while this attitude might work effectively for developing apps, it doesn’t fly in the rigid world of physical security, sources said.

When Facebook built its new headquarters, some of its entrance points had to be locked up after the team realized they posed a security risk, allowing people to bypass the checkpoints at the main reception desks, a source said. Security projects could become derailed because an engineer didn’t like some aspect of it. Across the company, different teams took very different approaches to handling investigations, hiring people with varying levels of experience and qualifications (Facebook says it is “intentional about hiring people from non-conventional backgrounds” in addition to hiring traditional security professionals).

“I know Facebook’s culture is ‘we’re all friends and there’s no friction.’ The reality is sometimes security requires a certain amount of friction,” one source said.

Lovrien conceded this was the case but said Facebook has since evolved. “That’s an accurate statement in Facebook six years ago, when I first started,” he said. “Over the last six years we’ve really focused on taking those programs offline and introducing new security systems.”

Since then, Lovrien said, “I’ve been able to hire the strongest leaders that are out there, and the level of expertise that we have is just not found in any other corporation, so very proud of the teams that are here.”

In recent months Facebook has been faced with some allegations of racism in its workplace, stemming from an open letter shared by a former employee, Mark Luckie. Two former security officers also said they saw discrimination.

“I’ll give you a rundown,” one former officer said. “Black guards being given the shit posts. Blacks guards being passed over for promotions. Incidents where white drivers were given leeway in an accident when blacks under similar situations were strictly penalized. Uneven discipline regarding hair color and visible tattoos.”

Facebook says it sets clear guidelines for contracting firms it works with and jointly investigates any such allegations. Allied Universal, which provides security officers for Facebook in the Bay Area, said it “is committed to diversity and fostering an inclusive work environment. Our goal is to represent the many and diverse communities that we take pride in serving because a diverse population of security officers creates safer environments and stronger communities. To this end, we have comprehensive standards of conduct and a zero-tolerance policy for discrimination, retaliation or harassment of any kind. At all organizational levels, we actively promote an inclusive culture to help expand opportunity for all in the communities that we help safeguard.”

Last August, Facebook’s security officers negotiated a union contract. But sources say some officers remain unhappy with the concessions it secured. And hiring new security officers can also be difficult because of ongoing low unemployment rate in the US — though that’s not unique to Facebook.

facebook gates

Facebook has its hands full keeping the masses out

Another key challenge for Facebook: managing guests, and keeping out people who aren’t supposed to be there.

The sheer scale of the number of people coming through Facebook’s doors is staggering. In June 2018, for example, the company had 140,000 invited guests globally, not including employees themselves — from job applicants to business-meeting attendees and friends of employees. (Nearly 54,000 of these visitors were at Menlo Park alone.) It had 1.5 million across the entire year.

But uninvited visitors also swarm to Facebook in astonishing numbers. The company has to turn away about 1,000 people from its offices every week (classified as “visitor turnaways, or VTAs): sightseers, people hoping to pitch the company on business proposals, and so on. And there’s a steady stream of angry users and protesters who come to cause a fuss.

Facebook’s security team sees dozens of “incidents” a day, which range from people angrily demanding to know why their accounts have been banned to internal issues like staff injuries requiring medical attention. If someone uninvited is hostile, they may be made a BOLO. Some are also classified as a person of interest, or POI.

Facebook would not say directly whether a journalist has ever been made a BOLO, or if the company has ever accessed the location data or other personal information of a journalist (whether a BOLO or not) as part of an investigation. “No person would be subject to the above-mentioned procedures without credible cause. A person — whether a journalist or not — would only be added to a list following an assessment that they constitute a credible threat to Facebook or its staff,” spokesperson Anthony Harrison said in an email.

“Our physical security team exists to keep Facebook staff safe. They use industry-standard measures to assess and address credible threats of violence against our staff and our company and refer these threats to law enforcement when necessary. We have strict processes designed to protect people’s privacy and adhere to applicable laws and regulations. Any suggestion our onsite physical security team has overstepped is absolutely false,” Harrison continued.

Business Insider previously obtained 911 call records from Facebook’s campus, which provided insight into the kind of extreme incidents that can occur: a mace attack on a security guard, a user who had been scammed after being told he’d “won the Facebook lottery,” an angry confrontation over a “non-injury accident,” and so on. But only a tiny fraction of incidents are severe enough to reach the point where 911 is called; the overwhelming majority are handled in-house. In April 2018, for example, there were more than 2,000 “incidents” at Facebook’s offices worldwide, 124 of which were medical incidents.

In one notable incident, in London in 2017, YouTubers were able to sneak into Facebook’s offices in the city and helped themselves to the free food and candy, subsequently making a video about their experiences. As a result, “when those individuals traveled to the US, we upstaffed and made sure every officer was aware of what they looked like in case they tried to access our buildings while they were here,” a source said.

At least one person has managed to sneak past security in an effort to pitch Zuckerberg on an idea and was discovered only after being noticed asking other employees for directions to the CEO’s desk. Another time, an outsider was turned away multiple times after lying about a meeting, only to be let in through a side door by an unwitting employee heading for lunch, a source said. The infiltrator picked up a Facebook-branded T-shirt to blend in, and was discovered only when they tried to survey Facebook employees.

facebook security parking lot

Controversy swirling around Chinese tech giant Huawei means concerns about corporate- and state-sponsored espionage have been headline news in recent weeks. Facebook has never detected anyone infiltrating the company to steal intellectual property or for political reasons, Lovrien said, but it is an issue that the security team worries about, and it has put countermeasures in place to try to “mitigate those potential risks.”

And in December, Facebook temporarily evacuated its headquarters after a bomb threat came in targeting the office. No one was hurt and no device was found. Lovrien declined to provide more information about the incident.

There will also occasionally be unauthorized drone flyovers, as pilots try to get a glimpse of what’s taking place inside Facebook’s hallowed walls.

The majority of activity isn’t malicious. Tourists also flock by the busload to the campus of Facebook, and other Silicon Valley firms, to try to get a glimpse of the world-famous companies or just get a photo next to the iconic thumbs-up sign, adding to the deluge of visitors the security team has to keep track of. (Ninety-nine percent of visitor turnaway is primarily tourists, Lovrien said.)

The company employs technological solutions to help them with all this. It uses license-plate scanners to check the vehicles of visitors, and see if they’re on any blacklists or belong to BOLOs — something that has helped identify stalkers prowling the grounds. And the company has explored using facial-recognition cameras to monitor who’s coming and going but says the tech hasn’t been implemented.

There’s also a Red Team, a “penetration testing” unit in the organization that tries to break into the company’s facilities in creative ways to test its defenses and keep security on its toes. Execs will sometimes be enlisted to help with these tests, swapping entry badges and attempting to gain access as someone else. (Facebook’s security officers are provided with photos of the company’s leadership so they can learn their faces, in much the same way lists and images of BOLOs circulate in preparation ahead of events.)

For the worst-case scenarios Facebook also has its off-duty officers armed with firearms, though their very existence remains unknown to many employees.

facebook reception desk 1

Facebook’s security nerve center needs to keep tabs on 80,000 people

In November 2015, when terrorists attacked the Bataclan theatre and other sites across Paris, Facebook’s GSOC sprang into action.

The GSOC — the global security operations center — is the nerve center of the social network’s physical-security infrastructure, monitoring threats, managing issues, and analyzing reams of data. A large room with dozens of computer stations and screens on the wall, it keeps tabs on all its employees’ overseas travel, and as the attack unfolded the team quickly worked to assemble data on Facebook employees in the area, to see if they were in harm’s way and asking them to check in with notification software Everbridge.

No Facebook employees were ultimately harmed in the attack, but it highlighted the GSOC’s role as a key node in Facebook’s efforts to keep its employees safe and secure, especially in times of crisis.

Open 24/7, the GSOC also employs its monitoring capabilities closer to home — keeping tabs on everything from video feeds of Zuckerberg’s home to local shootings or incidents that could affect Facebook employees in the area. One of the most significant day-to-day challenges it handles, Lovrien said, are issues caused by the weather — pointing to the recent deadly tornadoes in Alabama and the need to protect employees and facilities from them as a recent extreme example.

GSOC also has three outposts elsewhere in the world to provide round-the-clock coverage: one in London to cover EMEA; an Asia-Pacific base in Singapore; and a third in São Paulo, Brazil, for Latin America. And it produces the “Daily Brief,” a regular intelligence document that collates recent security issues, emerging issues, employees in high-risk locations, and other data points for company leadership. (Some investigations and research are also conducted by GSII, or global security intelligence and investigations.)

facebook GSOC

It also handles some Facebook user-focused features. It helps run Safety Check, Facebook’s feature that lets users mark themselves as safe to their friends after terror attacks, natural disasters, and other crises, including the Paris attacks in 2015, as well as the Amber alerts that go out on Facebook to help locate missing children, and Facebook’s blood-donation tool. There were more than 690 Safety Check activations throughout 2018, with more than 37 million users marking themselves safe as a result.

Global security has extensive plans and best practices for security incidents. Executive kidnapped? Notify law enforcement, get proof of life, contact the kidnap-and-ransom-insurance company, and go from there. Active shooter? Gather critical information about the location and description of the shooter, call law enforcement, send out emergency notifications, lock down or evacuate the buildings as necessary, and so on.

Unexpected package sent to an exec’s house? Get information about who dropped it off, make an incident alert, and send the package to the GSII without opening it. Media turned up outside Zuckerberg’s residence? Figure out who they are, why they’re there, send a mobile unit to meet them, and notify police if requested by management or the executive protection team.

Protocols like these are by no means unique to Facebook; they provide a clear agreed-upon framework to follow in times of crises. But they’re indicative of the disparate challenges Facebook now faces in protecting its global workforce, from civil disturbances to safely handling the firing of “high-risk employees.”

Facebook has to similarly prepare whenever it constructs a new facility: When it built its new Frank Gehry-designed headquarters in Menlo Park, the security threats it was forced to consider involved everything from the risk of earthquakes to the possibility of a plane from San Francisco International Airport falling out of the sky onto the campus, causing carnage.

Thefts, fights, after-hours trysts, and the challenges of managing Facebook’s workforce

And in an organization as large as Facebook, whose tens of thousands of employees rival the population of a small city, maintaining order means both protecting the perimeter from outside dangers and staying on top of inside threats.

When numerous employees’ headphones were disappearing a couple of years ago, the company installed a covert mobile camera to monitor desks, a source said. The sting operation caught an employee stealing them to sell online. A Facebook spokesperson said items are sometimes misplaced during office moves, and then misreported as thefts.

But Silicon Valley’s tradition of openness can complicate things, such as the time when an old prototype of an Oculus virtual-reality headset was stolen from a conference room. Facebook — like many companies — doesn’t have surveillance cameras inside its offices, and the enormous open-plan design of the office meant that the pool of suspects would likely be hundreds of people, with no way to narrow it down. There was nothing security could do; the prototype was never recovered.

“The business has identified that we really need that open office environment that promotes our collaboration, and so that’s the risk we’re willing to accept inside an office is that open office environment,” Lovrien said about Facebook’s approach to openness. “So what we then look at is how we mitigate that risk,” from proactively sifting through intelligence to putting physical checkpoints in place and manning the perimeter of the offices.

Facebook also provides employees with access to free vending machines that provide spare charging cables, headphones, computer mice, and other items — which can be another source of thefts. (Lovrien said these thefts are rare.)

facebook bikes

Employees sometimes try to use video-chat apps to give their friends virtual tours of the office, which is against the rules. And at least one employee was caught letting in tourists who wanted to take unauthorized tours of the facilities.

The fact that the office is open 24/7 also means there can be NSFW incidents. Employees are caught having sex in the offices about once every three months, on average. (HR may be alerted, but the couple aren’t typically fired.) On the other end of the spectrum, domestic disputes can have workplace consequences. At least one couple working at Facebook had a restraining order between them, forcing the two to work at different locations.

There’s one persistent problem that plagues security teams at companies around the world that is almost completely absent at Facebook: lunch thefts. That’s because Facebook provides an extensive selection of free lunches and snacks for all its workers.

Still, even cafeterias with free meals can have problems.

In August 2013, after Facebook’s beloved head chef died in a motorcycle crash, the company threw a blow-out party with free booze on a weekend to commemorate him. The memorial descended into chaos, with multiple fights breaking out among kitchen staff, which security staff believed were gang-related. The event culminated in one kitchen worker being beaten so badly on Facebook grounds they were hospitalised.

The assailant was subsequently blacklisted, but he continued to sneak onto campus to visit his mother who still worked there.


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Facebook is reportedly under criminal investigation over deals that gave Apple, Amazon, and other companies access to user data (FB)

MarkZuckerberg2016

  • Facebook is under criminal investigation over data-sharing deals it signed with Apple, Amazon, and other major tech companies, reports the New York Times. 
  • The partnerships, first reported in June, gave those outside companies to data including friends lists, contact information, and even private messages — and not always with the user’s consent.
  • Most of those partnerships have ended over the last two years. 
  • Facebook tells the Times that it is cooperating with investigators.

Federal prosecutors have opened a criminal investigation into data-sharing deals struck between Facebook and makers of mobile computing devices like smartphones and tablets, reports the New York Times

Under the terms of those deals, which the Times reported about in June, Facebook allowed device makers including Apple, Amazon, and Microsoft to access personal user data, including friend lists, contact information, and sometimes even private messages — and not always with the user’s consent, the report alleged. 

According to the New York Times report, a grand jury in New York has already subpoenaed information on these types of deals from at least two smartphone and other device manufacturers involved. 

“We are cooperating with investigators and take those probes seriously,” a Facebook spokesperson told Business Insider. “We’ve provided public testimony, answered questions and pledged that we will continue to do so.”

News of the criminal investigation is the latest in a series of controversies surrounding the 2-billion member social networking giant. Facebook has been struggling to rehabilitate its public image amid revelations that it allowed Cambridge Analytica to improperly access the personal data of many of its users and the growing evidence of how its social network has been used to spread misinformation during the 2016 US Presidential elections.

Facebook’s stock declined 1.5% in after hours trading on Wednesday. 

As if to underscore the company’s challenges, Facebook’s social network suffered one of the worst technical outages in its history on Wednesday, leaving users and advertisers unable to access the site for much of the day. 

Focus of the criminal inquiry is unknown

Facebook is already facing the prospect of multi-billion dollar fines to settle privacy investigations by the Federal Trade Commission and other agencies. But a criminal investigation would raise the stakes significantly.

Wednesday’s Times report, which cited anonymous sources, said it was not clear what exactly the grand jury inquiry  overseen by federal prosecutors is focused on, or when it began.

In December, following the Times report, Facebook said in a blog entry that these partnerships were necessary to enable certain social features in outside apps, like logging into a Facebook account from a Windows phone, or sharing what Spotify song you were listening to via Facebook Messenger. 

“To be clear: none of these partnerships or features gave companies access to information without people’s permission, nor did they violate our 2012 settlement with the FTC,” wrote Facebook in that blog post.

Most of those partnerships have ended over the last several years. 

The United States Department of Justice declined to comment on the report. 

SEE ALSO: Facebook and Instagram go down for hours in major outage — and it says it’s not being DDoS attacked

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7 unforgettable leadership lessons from the ancient Roman conqueror Julius Caesar

Julius Caesar

  • Julius Caesar was assassinated on the Ides of March over 2,000 years ago.
  • Caesar held a number of roles over the course of his career, serving as a high priest, general, and dictator.
  • His actions and assassination contributed to the downfall of the faltering Roman Republic.

Julius Caesar had a pretty bad day at work on March 15, 44 BCE. The dictator of Rome was lured to a meeting and stabbed to death by his coworkers.

He would’ve done well to beware the Ides of March.

Several years earlier, the politician and general had rose to power in a civil war. His assassination sparked yet another civil war that doomed the Roman Republic. The state ended up mutating into an empire, with Caesar’s adopted heir Octavian at the helm.

Today, Caesar is still considered one of the greatest military commanders in history. His name is also synonymous with cults of personality and political strongmen.

So how exactly did the one-time high priest of Jupiter accrue so much power during his lifetime?

Business Insider looked through some of his own writings — as well as the less-reliable but still interesting works of contemporary ancient writers — to get a sense of his leadership style.

SEE ALSO: 9 timeless lessons from the great Roman emperor Marcus Aurelius

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1. Presentation matters

The best leaders don’t just do amazing things — they know how to present a compelling story.

After a relatively brief war with a certain Pharnacles II of Pontus, Caesar had to sit down and write out a report to Rome detailing his conquest. According to both Greek biographer Plutarch and Roman historian Suetonius, the commander didn’t go into too much detail, writing simply: “I came, I saw, I conquered.”

The phrase proved so catchy that we still remember it, centuries later.

Caesar could have gone on and on about his military prowess (in fact, he was the author of several long military accounts). Instead, he realized that the simple note would convey the most powerful message.

2. Take risks

In ancient Rome, crossing the Rubicon River with an army was kind of a big deal. It was tantamount to a declaration of war and could be punishable by death.

When Caesar crossed the Rubicon with his legion, he put everything on the line. In “The Life of the Deified Julius,” Suetonius writes that Caesar quoted an Athenian playwright as he crossed the river, declaring “the die is cast.”

He risked it all and it paid off (in the short-term, at least).

3. There’s nothing wrong with starting small

Oftentimes, you’ve got to start out as a large fish in a small pond in order to succeed as a leader.

Caesar understood this. He managed to climb back into a position of power, even after losing his inheritance in a coup as a young man.

According to the ancient Plutarch’s “Parallel Lives,” the general also made a rather curious remark while passing through a small village in the Alps: “I assure you I had rather be the first man here than the second man in Rome.”

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Whistleblower Chelsea Manning arrested after refusing to testify in secret WikiLeaks case

Chelsea Manning

  • Chelsea Manning, the former US army analyst turned whistleblower, was arrested on Friday after she refused to testify before a federal grand jury on matters relating to her 2010 disclosure to WikiLeaks, multiple news outlets reported.
  • A judge ruled that Manning would be jailed until the grand jury’s proceedings are over or until she decided to testify, holding her in contempt of court.
  • Manning was previously imprisoned for seven years in relation to her WikiLeaks disclosures. Her 35-year sentence was cut short after President Barack Obama granted her clemency.
  • Manning was vocal about her struggles in prison, where she attempted suicide twice and underwent a gender transition despite being continually held in a men’s prison.

Chelsea Manning, the former US army analyst and whistleblower who leaked troves of classified material to WikiLeaks in 2010, was arrested on Friday after she reportedly refused to testify in front of a Virginia grand jury about her interactions with WikiLeaks and its founder, Julian Assange.

“I’ve found you in contempt,” Judge Claude M. Hilton told Manning at the public ruling, according to The Washington Post. He said Manning will be jailed “either until you purge yourself or the end of the life of the grand jury.”

Manning said in a statement on Twitter that she had been summoned to appear before a secret grand jury on Wednesday. In response to each question, she said she answered, “I object to the question and refuse to answer on the grounds that the question is in violation of my First, Fourth, and Sixth Amendment, and other statutory rights.”

“All of the substantive questions pertained to my disclosures of information to the public in 2010 — answers I provided in extensive testimony, during my court-martial in 2013,” her statement continued.

In January, WikiLeaks said federal prosecutors were working to get witnesses to testify against Assange in secret criminal proceedings being conducted by the Trump administration.

Read more: US prosecutors press witnesses to testify against Assange: WikiLeaks

Before the ruling, Manning told reporters, “I don’t believe in the grand jury process; I don’t believe in the secrecy of this.”

Manning’s lawyer, Moira Meltzer-Cohen, called the arrest an “an act of tremendous cruelty,” according to The Post.

Manning was imprisoned for seven years out of a 35-year sentence stemming from multiple counts under the Espionage Act. In 2017, she was released after President Barack Obama commuted her sentence.

Manning has said she suffered from mental-health problems in prison, where she attempted to commit suicide twice. During her incarceration, she spoke out about her treatment in the justice system as a transgender woman.

Throughout her sentence, she was housed in a men’s prison despite undergoing hormone and speech therapy as part of her transition.

Meltzer-Cohen commended prosecutors in the current case for working to address Manning’s medical needs, and Hilton said the court was available if US Marshals failed to address them, according to The Post.

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A Facebook funeral party at its HQ once descended into violence, and security suspected gang involvement (FB)

facebook campus party

In July 2013, Facebook’s beloved head chef Josef Desimone died in a motorcycle accident.

To commemorate him, the company threw a blowout party on campus at its Silicon Valley headquarters one Saturday the following month. Hundreds of people were invited, and booze flowed freely as Facebook’s employees and contract workers gathered to celebrate Desimone’s life.

And then it descended into chaos.

Multiple fights broke out among attendees, which security staff believe were gang-related, sources said. The event culminated in one kitchen worker being beaten so badly by another attendee on Facebook grounds that they were hospitalised.

The assailant was barred from Facebook’s campus but he continued to sneak back — to visit his mother who worked there.

The incident highlights the challenges Facebook’s security team faces as it polices the Silicon Valley technology firm — not only to defend the company from outside threats but also, sometimes, to protect workers from one another.

Business Insider has spoken with current and former employees and reviewed internal documents for an in-depth investigation into how Facebook handles its corporate security, which you can read here.

Sources described a hidden world of stalkers, stolen prototypes, state-sponsored espionage concerns, secret armed guards, car-bomb concerns, and more. Today, there are a staggering 6,000 people in Facebook’s global security organisation, working to safeguard Facebook’s 80,000-strong workforce of employees and contractors around the world.

When numerous employees’ headphones were disappearing a couple of years ago, the company installed a covert mobile camera to monitor desks, a source said. (The sting operation caught an employee stealing them to sell online. A Facebook spokesperson said items are sometimes misplaced during office moves, and then misreported as thefts.)

But Silicon Valley’s tradition of openness can complicate things, such as the time when an old prototype of an Oculus virtual-reality headset was stolen from a conference room. Facebook — like many companies — doesn’t have surveillance cameras inside its offices, and the enormous open-plan design of the office meant that the pool of suspects would likely be hundreds of people, with no way to narrow it down. There was nothing security could do; the prototype was never recovered.

“The business has identified that we really need that open office environment that promotes our collaboration, and so that’s the risk we’re willing to accept inside an office is that open office environment,” Facebook corporate-security chief Nick Lovrien said about Facebook’s approach to openness. “So what we then look at is how we mitigate that risk,” from proactively sifting through intelligence to putting physical checkpoints in place and manning the perimeter of the offices.

At least one employee has been caught letting in tourists who wanted to take unauthorized tours of the facilities, and employees are also caught having sex in the office about every three months, on average. (Human resources may be alerted, but the couple isn’t typically fired.)

Read the investigation into Facebook’s corporate security »


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The NSA publicly released a tool for cracking software wide open, and hackers are loving it — so long as the NSA makes good on its promise not to use it to spy on them

Nakasone cyber command

  • On Tuesday, the National Security Agency made its Ghidra — its tool for reverse-engineering software — available as open source, which means anyone can use or modify it for free.
  • Anybody can use it as a free cybersecurity tool for disassembling suspicious files, analyzing malware, and testing for vulnerabilities.
  • Since the Ghidra tool is free, this increases access for people to use it in both professional and educational settings — potentially making for a safer internet, even as it could introduce new people into the profession of cybersecurity, experts say. 
  • The NSA promises that there are no backdoors or other methods of spying built in to Ghidra, but hackers have gone over the code with a fine-tooth comb to double-check that claim. 

It’s been almost a week since the National Security Agency released a free software tool for picking apart suspicious files, and security enthusiasts are already poring over the code to hunt for bugs and backdoors. And once the project’s completely online for people to modify, developers will scramble to make this tool even more powerful, experts say.

On Tuesday, the NSA released an open source project called Ghidra, a software reverse engineering framework developed by NSA’s Research Directorate for NSA’s cybersecurity mission. The secretive spy agency originally developed Ghidra to analyze attacks and cybersecurity risks on government agencies and other organizations. Like individuals and companies, government agencies are also prone to cybersecurity attacks, including ones from other countries. 

Right now, the code is only available to download, but the NSA is in the process of putting the project onto code hosting site GitHub. And once that happens, experts expect to see enhancements from amateur and professional security developers roll out soon — making the tool even more robust, and a major reason why the NSA likely chose to release a formerly closed project, experts say. As an open source project, Ghidra can be used or modified by anyone for free.

In the meantime, the release of Ghidra has provoked a frenzy of activity as malware researchers, hobbyists and even the conspiracy-minded dissect the software and put it through its paces, assessing its capabilities and seeking to allay the inevitable suspicions about the spy agency’s gift. 

“If you have security concerns about Ghidra, do what I do and install all your research tools inside a Virtual Machine,” suggested MalWare Tech, a verified Twitter user with 141,000 followers.

Read more: A former Marine explains how her service helped prepare her to lead a new open source initiative for $3.3 billion startup Rubrik

Making Ghidra open source benefits NSA, experts say. It can be costly to work on improving Ghidra, but as an open source tool where anyone can modify it, an online community of developers can work to improve it much faster. It can also encourage recruitment and community interaction with th NSA, Graham says.

“The significance is that the product can be improved by the community instead of being solely funded by the NSA. Development of such a product is costly, and even the NSA doesn’t have unlimited funds. It’ll be great demonstration of the value of open-sourcing internally developed projects,” Rob Graham, consultant and owner at Errata Security. told Business Insider in a Twitter DM.

What is reverse engineering?

Reverse engineering helps users recover information needed to understand cybersecurity risks. For example, when there’s a suspicious file, it can be hard to find the specific issues with that file. But with reverse engineering, a person can disassemble the file to figure out how it works and what risks it might have — essentially, working backwards.

This is similar to figuring out how a dish is prepared at a restaurant so you can make it at home. With Ghidra, people can inspect suspicious code, analyze malware and test for vulnerabilities. 

Ghidra’s technology isn’t anything new as there are currently commercial reverse engineering tools available, but as an open source tool, it increases access for people to work with reverse engineering, says Jon Amato, research director for Gartner’s technical professionals security and risk management strategies team.

“It lowers the bar for entry for people who can do reverse engineering in the industry and are frustrated and priced out for commercial tools,” Amato told Business Insider.

Ghidra is not as sophisticated as some commercially available tools, Amato says, but it’s still a “good first start” for people who want to get their hands dirty with reverse engineering. Plus, right now, commercial tools can cost thousands of dollars a year. Although the NSA has released a set of other open source projects, this is the first open source tool specifically for analyzing malicious code and malware-like viruses.

“This functionality has been in freeware and commercial based tools for years,” Amato said. “The problem was commercial tools were crazy expensive. [Ghidra] competes with more commercial tools in that in can do a bunch of different stuff but it can do it for free.

Amato says that this tool isn’t a general purpose security tool, but rather, a niche tool that would only be used in specialized security jobs. That being said, now that the tool is free, he believes that Ghidra will likely be used as a teaching tool in colleges and universities — giving students access to learning about this specialized type of cybersecurity technology.

“We’ll start to see this used in academic classroom environments because some of the commercial tools can be a little difficult to gain licenses for even for academic environments,” Amato said. “The learning ecosystem is going to be the first and most immediate change we’ll see.”

Skepticism

Still, some users were skeptical about the announcement. Ghidra has already been around for years, and it’s likely that the NSA has replaced its internal tools for reverse engineering, says Jerry Gamblin, principal security engineer at Kenna Security.

“It was known to exist, and because it had lost internal value and it wasn’t a tool that was going to drastically make the Internet safe, it allows them to give something back to the security community,” Gamblin told Business Insider. “It’s good timing for the NSA.”

The fact that it’s from the NSA may also deter some users from using this tool, but otherwise, since Ghidra’s release, the security community has already started sifting through the code to try out the code and to look for bugs.

“There is no backdoor in Ghidra,” Robert Joyce, NSA senior advisor, said at RSA on Tuesday. “This is the last community you want to release something out to with a backdoor installed, to people who hunt for this stuff to tear apart.”

Here’s what people are saying about Ghidra.

 

SEE ALSO: Microsoft is seriously closing the gap with Amazon in the cloud wars, according to a survey of IT professionals

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'About as likely as Mexico paying for Trump's wall': Some experts say Elizabeth Warren's plan to break up Big Tech will never happen

Elizabeth Warren

  • On Friday, presidential hopeful Elizabeth Warren laid out a plan to break up tech giants like Facebook, Amazon, and Google by forcing them to divest from major acquisitions.
  • Warren cited Facebook’s acquisition of WhatsApp and Amazon’s purchase of Whole Foods as mergers she would “unwind” for being anti-competitive. 
  • It’s a bold plan, but experts tell us its unlikely to happen given the history of antitrust cases and how difficult it would be to carry out. 

On Friday, presidential hopeful Elizabeth Warren laid out a plan to break up tech giants like Facebook, Amazon, and Google by forcing them to divest some of their biggest acquisitions.

Warren cited Facebook’s acquisition of WhatsApp and Amazon’s purchase of Whole Foods as anti-competitive mergers she would “unwind.” 

It’s a bold plan, but experts tell us it’s unlikely to happen given the history of antitrust cases and how difficult it would be to carry out. 

Read more: Elizabeth Warren says she wants to break up big tech companies, including Amazon, Google, and Facebook

To establish precedent, Warren wrote that “America has a long tradition of breaking up companies when they have become too big and dominant.” But for NYU Law Professor and antitrust expert, Harry First, that interpretation is questionable. 

“To say there’s a long tradition of this would be charitable,” First said. “There have been some major breakups based on violations of antitrust laws. You have American Tobacco, you have Standard Oil, you have AT&T, but over time, not so many because it’s so hard to do.” 

Michael Pachter, Managing Director of Equity Research at Wedbush Securities, says the difficulty would likely be political — getting both Democrats and Republicans to agree on the necessary policy changes needed to carry out Warren’s proposal. 

“If Congress changes the antitrust laws, perhaps it could [happen], but that is a remote possibility and unlikely to be a high priority for either the House or Senate,” Pachter said. “[It’s] about as likely as is Mexico paying for Trump’s wall.” 

 

Scott Berg, Managing Director and Senior Analyst at Needham & Company, doesn’t see the feasibility in breaking up major tech companies because of the interconnectedness of their products. 

“A lot of the value that Google has seen in the Maps platform, for instance, comes from all the data that they have from Search,” Berg said. “So if you try to segregate some of those business units, you’re actually going to remove a lot of the value there that you’re giving to consumers.” 

In the past, Berg said, breaking up a telecoms or oil giants would have been easier because their product offerings  weren’t as integrated as they are today. Instead, businesses could be broken up simply by region, he said. 

For Berg, needing to break up a company would also imply it had a monopoly over a certain industry to begin with and to him, that isn’t the case with the example companies Warren provided. 

“Take Amazon Web Services platform. AWS has done great, but Microsoft and Google are making big strides there as well.” Berg said. “On the Google side, yes they’ve done a lot with search, but outside of search, which of their products is super dominant out there in terms of being about to have a monopoly?”

Regarding how he imagines investors will react to increasing talk of breaking up the tech industry, Berg doesn’t think there should be too much cause for concern. 

“It’s headline news and in that particular day, maybe it has the chance to move the stock a percent or two, but over a longer term duration, I think the impact is minimal,” he said. 

On Friday, major tech stocks were relatively flat. 

For University of Michigan Law professor Daniel Crane, the problem with Warren’s plan to break up big tech can be summed up with her botched interpretation of Microsoft’s antitrust suit in her statement on Friday. 

“What’s the punch line of Microsoft case? Let’s not break up Microsoft,” Crane said. “When you look at what [Warren] wants to do — which is two things, break up [tech companies] and transform them into public utilities — that’s exactly the opposite of the concept of [the] Microsoft [case]. Microsoft is, ‘Let’s restore competition by eliminating the practices that Microsoft engaged in that were exploiting innovation.'” 

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Whistleblower Chelsea Manning is in jail again and could face up to 18 months behind bars despite facing no criminal charges

Chelsea Manning 2019

  • Whistleblower Chelsea Manning was sent to jail again on Friday after refusing to testify in front of a grand jury probing WikiLeaks and Julian Assange, according to multiple news outlets. 
  • Manning’s attorney Moira Meltzer-Cohen told INSIDER that she could serve up to 18 months in prison despite being accused of no crime. 
  • Meltzer-Cohen said the tactic was a form of “coercion” meant to probe Manning into testifying. 

Whistleblower Chelsea Manning, a former US Army analyst who leaked troves classified information to WikiLeaks, was jailed again on Friday after she refused to testify in front of a grand jury that is reportedly probing WikiLeaks and Julian Assange, according to numerous news outlets.

Despite being accused of no crime, Manning faces up to 18 months in jail.

“Chelsea can be incarcerated for the remainder of the grand jury [up to 18 months], and the term of the grand jury can be extended by six months,” Manning’s attorney Moira Meltzer-Cohen told INSIDER.

Moira Meltzer-Cohen said Manning was held in contempt of court under the “the recalcitrant witness statute,” which specifically pertains to “someone who is refusing to give testimony before a grand jury.”

Despite being accused of no crime, the statute allows individuals to be confined “in a ‘suitable place,'” for no more than 18 months, while the grand jury is underway.

“The only lawful purpose for such confinement is to coerce them to change their mind and give testimony. So they can’t be punished for a refusal to testify, but they may be ‘civilly confined’ to see if they will agree to change their mind and give testimony,” said Meltzer-Cohen.

Read more: Whistleblower Chelsea Manning arrested after refusing to testify in secret WikiLeaks case

“Today’s decision was not unexpected, but it’s an appealable order,” she continued.

In a statement, Manning said she refused to answer the questions of the grand jury, whose proceedings are under seal. In response to each question, she said she answered, “I object to the question and refuse to answer on the grounds that the question is in violation of my First, Fourth, and Sixth Amendment, and other statutory rights.”

“All of the substantive questions pertained to my disclosures of information to the public in 2010 — answers I provided in extensive testimony, during my court-martial in 2013,” her statement continued.

WikiLeaks alleged in January that federal prosecutors have been working to secure testimony for a grand jury pertaining to criminal charges being levied by the Trump administration. 

In a statement, Manning’s support committee, Chelsea Resists, called the ruling punitive, and pointed to previous statements from President Donald Trump about Manning, saying, “It is no secret that members of the current administration have openly expressed their hatred for Chelsea. Donald Trump himself has tweeted about his desire to undo Barack Obama’s commutation and put Chelsea back in jail.”

The judge rejected Manning’s lawyer’s request that she be confined at home due to medical and safety concerns.

“It has always been our intent and hope for her to testify and comply with the valid court order and valid grand jury investigation,” federal prosecutor Tracy Doherty-McCormick said in a statement relayed to The New York Times. “Ms. Manning could change her mind right now and do so. It is her choice. This is a rule of law issue, and Ms. Manning is not above the law.”

Manning isn’t the first high-profile person to face jail after allegations of civil contempt. Susan McDougal spent 18 months in jail after she refused to answer three questions pertaining to the Whitewater scandal that surrounded President Bill Clinton, according to CNN.

In 2006, Greg F. Anderson, personal trainer to then-San Francisco Giants’ player Barry Bonds, was held in contempt twice after refusing to testify for two different grand juries investigating perjury charges against Bonds. Anderson was held in jail for over a year until Bonds was indicted in 2007.

In February, an appeals court sided with a lower court in ruling that Roger Stone associate Andrew Miller was in contempt for refusing to testify in front of a Mueller grand jury, according to CNN. It’s not clear whether Miller will testify, continue to fight the subpoena, or be jailed.

SEE ALSO: U.S. prosecutors press witnesses to testify against Assange: WikiLeaks

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Mark Zuckerberg is rumored to have a secret escape passageway beneath his conference room for emergencies (FB)

facebook ceo mark zuckerberg

When Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg first got 24/7 executive protection, there was a problem: He kept wandering off.

Sources said that in the early 2010s, the world-famous tech cofounder didn’t always keep his security team — initially just one person — in the loop on his plans. He might decide on a whim to leave the office, go for a jog, or to a bar, leaving his staff scrambling to keep up.

“He [was] in his mid-twenties … he was developing a platform he truly believed was good … at the time he didn’t grasp the concept that there were haters out there,” one source said.

Since then, however, the billionaire exec has grown more accepting of the constant presence of executive protection, according to insiders. His closely monitored patterns of life now far more closely resemble a head of state than a typical 34-year-old engineer, with the stricter security practices mirroring the increasing fortification of Facebook over the years.

Business Insider spoke with current and former workers at Facebook’s Global Security organization and others familiar with the matter, obtained internal company documents, reviewed court documents, and surveyed publicly available information in a 5,000-word investigation into how Facebook handles its corporate security, which you can read in full here

These sources described sophisticated logistical challenges in protecting tens of thousands of employees and contract workers every day, and an underlying struggle that the techie ideals of openness and engineer freedom have with the realities of protecting a high-profile and increasingly controversial multinational firm — as well as the challenges that come with protecting one of the world’s richest men.

They also shared stories of stolen prototypes, gang violence, state-sponsored espionage fears, stalkers, car bomb concerns, secret armed guards — and more.

The rumored ‘panic chute’

Armed executive protection officers stand on constant guard outside Zuckerberg’s gated homes in the Bay Area, at least one of which also features a panic room. If he goes to a bar, his team will sweep through ahead of time to make sure it’s safe. They will vet any new doctors, and they will assess his instructors if he wants to take up a new hobby. He is driven everywhere, with the security team monitoring traffic and adjusting his route accordingly. (Back when he still drove, Zuckerberg was, in the words of one source, a “s—– driver.”)

During company all-hands meetings, members of Zuckerberg’s Praetorian Guard sit at the front of the room and are dotted throughout the crowd, just in case an employee tries to rush him. They wear civilian clothes to blend in with non-security employees.

Zuckerberg doesn’t typically work in a cordoned-off office like a traditional corporate executive. Instead, his regular desk is on the floor of Facebook’s open-plan office, just like everyone — but executive-protection officers sit near his desk while he works, in case of security threats. Facebook’s offices are built above an employee parking lot, but it’s impossible to park directly beneath Zuckerberg’s desk because of concerns about the risk of car bombs.

He also has access to a large glass-walled conference room in the middle of the space near his desk that features bullet-resistant windows and a panic button. There’s also a persistent rumor among Facebook employees that he has a secret “panic chute” his team can evacuate him down to get him out of the office in a hurry. The truth of this matter remains murky: One source said they had been briefed about the existence of a top-secret exit route through the floor of the conference room into the parking garage, but others said they had no knowledge of it. Facebook declined to comment on this.

Mark Zuckerberg happy

A $10 million security plan

All told, there are now more than 70 people on the executive-protection team at Facebook, led by former US Secret Service special agent Jill Leavens Jones. In July 2018, Facebook’s board approved a $10 million security allowance for Zuckerberg and his family for the year.

And with good reason: The billionaire chief exec lives an extraordinarily public life, with 118 million followers on Facebook alone (making him both an icon of Facebook’s ideals and, increasingly, a magnet for public ire after his company’s recent scandals), and the threats he faces are severe.

He receives numerous of death threats each week, and the security team actively monitors social media for mentions of him and Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook’s chief operating officer, to detect them. The pair also have stalkers, who alternately declare their undying love for the execs and harbor worrying vendettas against them.

Zuckerberg and Sandberg are the only two Facebook execs with 24/7 executive protection, though others may get it for specific occasions, such as during travel. The pair also have amusing security code names, which Business Insider is not publishing for safety reasons.

Such stalkers are classified as “BOLOs,” short for “Be On the Look Out,” a category of person barred from all Facebook property. If BOLOs use Facebook or the other apps the company owns, the security team may quietly use data drawn from these apps to monitor their location without telling them, CNBC previously reported.

In one surreal episode, someone turned up outside Zuckerberg’s house with a love letter scrawled across the side of their truck, a source said. Security officers initially assumed it was directed at the CEO — but it was actually for the benefit of one of the housekeeping staff.

Pranks and political stunts are another concern: High-profile execs make prime targets, as Microsoft cofounder Bill Gates infamously discovered when he had a pie thrown in his face in Brussels in 1998. Anytime Zuckerberg goes out in public, there are concerns he could be mobbed, and his appearances at events are carefully planned and mapped out.

People will also send unsolicited presents to his home — everything from cookies to a gift from a rabbi after the birth of one of his children. (These get sent to the security team for inspection; Zuckerberg doesn’t open them himself.)

In Facebook’s offices, things are less intense, but employees will still rush to get the seats at meetings closest to Zuckerberg. Executive-protection officers are instructed to be alert for employees and guests at the offices trying to take unauthorized photos of Zuckerberg, which is against the rules. Some employees, too, will try and give him gifts.

“If you’ve ever been close to his office, you’ll see there are big burly people sitting there staring at screens. They pretend to be software engineers, but everyone knows that they are security guards,” one Facebook employee wrote in a Quora post. “Once I was there at 7am, and tried to take a picture of his office (he was not inside) to send to my family, but immediately, 3 of the men came seemingly out of nowhere and asked me to delete the picture.”

You can read Business Insider’s full investigation into Facebook’s corporate security here »


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