New emails found by Facebook (FB) may implicate CEO Mark Zuckerberg in several of the privacy controversies that have battered the social network, The Wall Street Journal reported on Wednesday — something that the company has denied.
According to the publication, a cache of unearthed emails show that Zuckerberg may have been aware of privacy problems with his site that pre-dated the Cambridge Analytica scandal that originally b put the company on the defensive.
While the new missives have not been reviewed by The Journal, the outlet reported that people familiar with the probe believe some of these emails could show that Zuckerberg was aware of potential privacy violations that ran afoul of a 2012 settlement with regulators.
Facebook is currently operating under a 2012 consent decree with the FTC that was meant to safeguard the privacy of its users. With that in mind, the site is currently looking for a speedy settlement with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), which is in the midst of a probe of Facebook.
The disclosures contained within the new emails, however, may make it difficult.
In a statement to Yahoo Finance, Facebook pushed back on the WSJ report.
“We have fully cooperated with the FTC's investigation to date and provided tens of thousands of documents, emails and files. We are continuing to work with them and hope to bring this matter to an appropriate resolution,” a spokesman said.
The company added that “at no point did Mark or any other Facebook employee knowingly violate the company’s obligations under the FTC consent order nor do any emails exist that indicate they did.”
According to the WSJ, one email exchange occurred in April 2012 and caught the attention of regulators. In that message, Zuckerberg voiced concerned about an app that claimed to have built a database with information on millions of Facebook users.
According to the report, Zuckerberg asked whether such data collection was possible, and was told that it was and that it was the practice of many developers. Discussion continued but without Zuckerberg suggesting that the practice should be probed.
Facebook has since admitted that it was too slow to catch security issues like these.
The FTC is reportedly seeking a record, multi-billion dollar settlement from Facebook—Facebook expects to pay $3 billion to $5 billion in fines to the federal regulator.
Calder McHugh is an Associate Editor at Yahoo Finance. Follow him on Twitter:@Calder_McHugh.