News & Politics

What Mark Zuckerberg Said Years Ago About Facebook Could Haunt Him Amid the Cambridge Analytica Scandal

The leaked instant messages show a darker side of Zuckerberg.

Photo Credit: Frederic Legrand - COMEO / Shutterstock.com

A 2010 New Yorker profile of Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg may haunt him now amid Cambridge Analytica news. The profile, written by Jose Antonio Vargas, details a leaked exchange between the Facebook creator and a friend who wasn’t identified.

The chat log was first leaked to the technology website Silicon Alley Insider and depicted instant messages from Zuckerberg in which he brags to an unnamed friend about having unfettered access to the data of any Harvard student he wanted. When the friend asks Zuckerberg how he gained such access, the social network creator mocked people’s supposed naivete.

"Yeah, so if you ever need [information] about anyone at Harvard, just ask," Zuckerberg said to his friend. He added, "I have 4,000 emails, pictures, addresses, [and] SNS." The friend sounds surprised, and asks, "What? How'd you manage that one?" Zuckerberg replied, "People just submitted it. I don't know why. They trust me. Dumb f***s."

Zuckerberg, who never disputed the tasteless conversation, later said he “absolutely” regretted the chat.

Zuckerberg's insensitive remarks could cause him even more legal and social trouble as recent reports point to accusations of data harvesting and manipulation by Cambridge Analytica. For about a year, the United Kingdom-based data analytics consulting firm has gained notoriety as some allege it played a role in both Donald Trump’s victory in the United States and the United Kingdom’s Brexit campaign.

Now, both companies are under more global fury after former Cambridge Analytica employee Christopher Wylie blew the whistle on the company and accused Facebook of allowing Cambridge Analytica to harvest around 50 million users' personal data through personality quizzes. Both Cambridge Analytica and Facebook deny any misconduct.

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Mehreen Kasana is a news writer. Previously, she worked as the front-page editor for the Huffington Post. Follow her on Twitter at @mehreenkasana.