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U.S. Business Facebook worries e-mails could show Zuckerberg knew of questionable privacy practices: report

Facebook Inc. e-mails appear to show chief executive officer Mark Zuckerberg’s involvement in discussions about its much criticized privacy practices, the Wall Street Journal reported on Wednesday, citing people familiar with the matter.

The newspaper said reporters had not seen the e-mails and relied on unnamed people. The report said the communications “appear to show chief executive Mark Zuckerberg’s connection to potentially problematic privacy practices at the company.” Shares of the Menlo Park, Calif.-based company were down 1.8 per cent at US$174.90 in early afternoon trading.

The e-mails have raised concerns within the company that they could be a public-relations problem, at least, for Facebook, the WSJ reported, citing one of the people familiar with the matter.

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The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has been investigating allegations that Facebook inappropriately shared information belonging to 87 million users with the now-defunct British political-consulting firm Cambridge Analytica.

The FTC and the Department of Justice, which enforce antitrust laws in the United States, are also gearing up to investigate whether tech giants Amazon.com Inc., Apple Inc., Facebook and Alphabet’s Google misuse their massive market power.

The company’s move to reach a speedy settlement of the FTC investigation is in part because of the emails, according to the WSJ report. The Journal said it could not determine what emails the FTC has requested and how many of them relate to Zuckerberg.

Facebook said it has fully co-operated with the FTC investigation to date and provided tens of thousands of documents, e-mails and files.

“Facebook and its executives, including Mark, at all times strive to comply with all applicable law, and at no point did Mark or any other Facebook employee knowingly violate the company’s obligations under the FTC consent order,” a company spokesman said in an email.

The company has previously said it is preparing to pay as much as US$5-billion in a settlement with U.S. regulators.

The WSJ report said it could not be determined whether any of the e-mails reveal practices that violated the 2012 agreement with the FTC to safeguard user privacy.

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