Mark Zuckerberg Condemns Feds for Using Facebook to Hack Into Computers

The U.S. government’s online surveillance is jeopardizing the Internet as we know it, Facebook’s CEO wrote Thursday.

Mark Zuckerberg speaks during a press conference at the Facebook headquarters in Palo Alto, California on May 26, 2010. AFP PHOTO / GABRIEL BOUYS (Photo credit should read GABRIEL BOUYS/AFP/Getty Images)
National Journal
Dustin Volz
March 13, 2014, 12:08 p.m.

Face­book founder Mark Zuck­er­berg took to his own site Thursday to cri­ti­cize Pres­id­ent Obama and his ad­min­is­tra­tion for its secret spy­ing tac­tics and to urge great­er trans­par­ency of its on­line-sur­veil­lance pro­grams.

“The U.S. gov­ern­ment should be the cham­pi­on for the In­ter­net, not a threat,” Zuck­er­berg wrote on his Face­book page. “They need to be much more trans­par­ent about what they’re do­ing, or oth­er­wise people will be­lieve the worst.”

The missive was is­sued in par­tial re­sponse to re­ports this week that the Na­tion­al Se­cur­ity Agency has de­ployed spoofs of the so­cial net­work to in­fect com­puters with mal­ware “im­plants.” The Menlo Park, Cal­if.-based com­pany has denied hav­ing any know­ledge of any such pro­gram and said it’s new en­cryp­tion stand­ards would block any such hack­ing.

Zuck­er­berg enu­mer­ated the way his com­pany works to keep user pri­vacy se­cure on Face­book, ex­plain­ing that such safe­guards are the un­der­pin­nings of the In­ter­net and make it a “shared space” every­one can par­ti­cip­ate in.

But gov­ern­ment sur­veil­lance is dis­rupt­ing what the In­ter­net is and wants to be, Zuck­er­berg said.

“That’s why I’ve been so con­fused and frus­trated by the re­peated re­ports of the be­ha­vi­or of the U.S. gov­ern­ment,” he said. “When our en­gin­eers work tire­lessly to im­prove se­cur­ity, we ima­gine we’re pro­tect­ing you against crim­in­als, not our own gov­ern­ment.”

Zuck­er­berg also said he has called Obama to share his frus­tra­tion “over the dam­age the gov­ern­ment is cre­at­ing for all of our fu­ture.” But “it seems like it will take a very long time for true full re­form,” the bil­lion­aire ad­ded.

UP­DATE: The Na­tion­al Se­cur­ity Agency on Thursday denied us­ing a dop­pel­gang­er ver­sion of Face­book, say­ing it lacks the abil­ity to do so and only con­ducts for­eign in­tel­li­gence op­er­a­tions that are “law­ful and ap­pro­pri­ate.”

What We're Following See More »
Trump Not on Ballot in Minnesota
3 days ago
Trump on Immigration: ‘I Don’t Know, You Tell Me’
3 days ago

Perhaps Donald Trump can take a plebiscite to solve this whole messy immigration thing. At a Fox News town hall with Sean Hannity last night, Trump essentially admitted he's "stumped," turning to the audience and asking: “Can we go through a process or do you think they have to get out? Tell me, I mean, I don’t know, you tell me.”

Trump Enriching His Businesses with Donor Money
4 days ago

Donald Trump "nearly quintupled the monthly rent his presidential campaign pays for its headquarters at Trump Tower to $169,758 in July, when he was raising funds from donors, compared with March, when he was self-funding his campaign." A campaign spokesman "said the increased office space was needed to accommodate an anticipated increase in employees," but the campaign's paid staff has actually dipped by about 25 since March. The campaign has also paid his golf courses and restaurants about $260,000 since mid-May.

Trump Cancels Rallies
5 days ago

Donald Trump probably isn't taking seriously John Oliver's suggestion that he quit the race. But he has canceled or rescheduled rallies amid questions over his stance on immigration. Trump rescheduled a speech on the topic that he was set to give later this week. Plus, he's also nixed planned rallies in Oregon and Las Vegas this month.

Sean Hannity Is Also Advising Trump
6 days ago

Donald Trump's Fox News brain trust keeps growing. After it was revealed that former Fox chief Roger Ailes is informally advising Trump on debate preparation, host Sean Hannity admitted over the weekend that he's also advising Trump on "strategy and messaging." He told the New York Times: “I’m not hiding the fact that I want Donald Trump to be the next president of the United States. I never claimed to be a journalist.”