Most Facebook users know by now that the company doesn’t always protect us as well as it should. However, a report this week revealed that Facebook guards its employees’ privacy in a way that goes above and beyond what it does for the general public. And this privacy double-standard has caused a stir among Facebook’s critics.
According to the report in the Wall Street Journal, Facebook has an internal tool that alerts employees if another Facebook employee accesses their account. It was originally called the “Sauron Alert,” named after the all-watchful eye in Lord of the Rings, but it was rebranded to the less-scary-sounding “Security Watchdog” in 2015. This is particularly relevant because of the revelation this week that Facebook fired an engineer for abusing his access to stalk women online.
In a statement to Gizmodo, Facebook confirmed that it has discussed rolling out a similar tool to all users. But the company said there were many factors it had to consider before doing so, like how to “avoid tipping off bad actors or hindering our work to prevent real world harm in cases of bullying, abuse or other sensitive situations.”
With all its many controversies, this was not a good time for Facebook to get caught giving its employees preferential privacy treatment. But here’s hoping the continuing avalanche of stories like this force the social media giant to better protect its users.