Facebook has turned over internal emails to regulators that appear to show that CEO Mark Zuckerberg was at least partially aware of third parties amassing user data from the social network, according to The Wall Street Journal.
The Journal, citing people familiar with the emails, said that documents handed over to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) show Zuckerberg’s close involvement in addressing third-party data collection on Facebook’s platform.
In April 2012, Zuckerberg asked his employees about an app purported to have amassed a database of millions of Facebook users’ information gleaned from the platform. Facebook employees responded that it was possible the app had collected the data, but that it would be complicated for Facebook to intervene.
The Journal did not review the emails in question but rather relied on its sources’ characterization of the documents.
The report comes amid heightened scrutiny over Facebook and other tech giants’ handling of user data and privacy.
The FTC is investigating Facebook’s handling of the Cambridge Analytica scandal, and whether the company has violated a 2011 consent agreement with the agency requiring it to ramp up its privacy practices.
“We have fully cooperated with the FTC’s investigation to date and provided tens of thousands of documents, emails and files,” a Facebook spokesperson said in a statement. “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.”
Some within the FTC are reportedly pushing the agency to hold Zuckerberg personally accountable for the company’s practices, a step that would likely sink the possibility of an amicable settlement closing the investigation.
Facebook has said that it expects to pay up to $5 billion in fines as a result of the FTC’s investigation.