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The future, according to Mark Zuckerberg, is private.
Reeling from two years of bruising scandals, Facebook has begun a major initiative to overhaul the social network so that it’s more attuned to the privacy and security implications of a service used by more than 2 billion people.
As part of this so-called pivot to privacy, Zuckerberg described the future Facebook as being divided between a public “town square” — essentially the familiar public posts on the Facebook Newsfeed today — and a private “living room.”
“As I think about the future of the internet, I believe a privacy-focused communications platform will become even more important than today’s open platforms,” Zuckerberg wrote in a blog post in March. “Privacy gives people the freedom to be themselves and connect more naturally, which is why we build social networks.”
Facebook’s private living room will encompass existing products like WhatsApp, as well as yet-to-be created services and features. Facebook is already hard at work knitting together its various messaging apps — WhatsApp, Instagram DMs, and Messenger — making them end-to-end encrypted and giving users more control over their data. And new products being developed, including the controversial libra digital currency, will be built on the foundation of this new privacy framework.
It’s a major undertaking — but who’s behind it? Who are the crucial figures driving it to succeed? Business Insider has identified 16 of the key figures working on the company’s “pivot to privacy,” from veteran lawyers to key lieutenants of the 34-year-old billionaire CEO, expert technologists, and Facebook critics turned insiders.
In no particular order, here they all are:
Erin Egan, a Facebook veteran working as one of its two chief privacy officers
Egan is an eight-year Facebook veteran serving in one of the social networking giant’s most important roles: chief privacy officer for policy.
She oversees the policies and rules that try to protect Facebook’s more than 2 billion global users. Before Facebook, she spent 15 years at the law firm Covington & Burling, becoming partner and cochair of its global privacy and data-security practice group.
Adam Mosseri, shepherding Facebook’s buzziest app into the privacy-first future
Mosseri is a key lieutenant of Mark Zuckerberg and entrusted with Facebook’s hottest property: Instagram.
The creator of the Newsfeed is responsible for overseeing the photo-sharing app as it gears up to implement end-to-end encryption on all its messages, the biggest public-facing consequence of Facebook’s “pivot to privacy.”
The 36-year-old exec has been at Facebook since 2008 and studied at New York University.
Pedro Canahuati, a technical exec looking at security and privacy
As vice president of security and privacy engineering, Canahuati is helping safeguard Facebook users’ data — from protecting data centers from hackers to dealing with government demands for users’ data.
He’s also the guy who steps in when there’s a crisis: According to a previous report from The Information, he “leads the company’s technical response to security and data-privacy incidents.”
He’s been an engineering manager in varying capacities at Facebook since the middle of 2009 and studied computer science at the University of Maryland in the ’90s.
Ashlie Beringer, privacy-focused legal guru
Managing privacy matters on the legal side is Beringer, who heads up the Facebook’s regulatory, product, and privacy legal team.
According to her LinkedIn profile, she is “responsible for defense and engagement in all regulatory matters involving the Facebook family of companies worldwide. Oversee team providing full spectrum legal guidance to product, ads and partnership teams in all phases of product and platform development.”
She joined Facebook in 2013 and was a partner at the law firm Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher before that.
Fidji Simo, driving Facebook’s new focus on Groups and Stories
Facebook’s “pivot to privacy” isn’t just about sticking encryption on everything — the company is also encouraging ways for users to interact in more intimate, specialized ways.
Two key strands in this are Groups, letting friends and strangers congregate around common interest; and Stories, ephemeral photo and video messages that disappear after 24 hours.
As head of Facebook’s core app, Simo is responsible for both of these products — as well as managing the 15-year-old service more broadly and ensuring it doesn’t wane in relevancy during the company’s next chapter.
The former eBay employee joined Facebook in 2011 and was previously vice president of video, games and monetization.
Kevin Bankston, a Facebook critic turned employee
Bankston is a Facebook critic turned advocate. He previously worked as the director of New America’s Open Technology Institute, as well as an attorney at the digital-rights think tank the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF).
When he joined Facebook in April, he wrote a blog post explaining his decision:
I am not going to Facebook despite the fact that I have been a critic. I am going because I have been. Because I believe in the promise of what the company is building … I can’t and won’t make excuses for the privacy mistakes that Facebook has made (and that I have criticized) over the past ten years. What I can do is help ensure that they make the right decisions now, not just for the products that exist today, but for all the products that are coming in the future.
Stephen Deadman, Facebook’s first-ever data-protection officer
Deadman is Facebook’s first-ever data-protection officer.
Appointed in May 2018, the Ireland-based exec works to ensure Facebook complies with General Data Protection Regulation in Europe. Before taking the role, he said in an interview to The Privacy Advisor that it would involve “monitoring processes and systems, putting in place new processes and documentation for compliance, and working with cross-functional teams to ensure we have the best arrangements to deliver compliance in practice.”
Before joining Facebook in 2015, he worked for the telecom firm Vodafone as group-privacy officer.
Michel Protti, Facebook’s newly appointed second chief privacy officer
In the aftermath of Facebook’s $5 billion settlement with the Federal Trade Commission over privacy issues, the firm was seeking to appoint a chief privacy officer to oversee its products — so it turned to Protti, a longtime marketing executive at the company.
Formally Facebook’s vice president of partnerships product marketing, Protti now serves as the newly appointed chief privacy officer for product, directly reporting to Zuckerberg.
Before joining Facebook in 2013, he worked at Guggenheim Media, Yahoo, and McKinsey.
Guy Rosen, Facebook’s data cop keeping the platform safe for users
Rosen isn’t closely involved in the nuts and bolts of encryption or privacy engineering like some of Facebook’s privacy-focused leaders — but he plays a key role in ensuring the platform remains safe and secure for its users.
He’s the vice president of integrity at Facebook, where he manages teams working to battle issues like fake accounts, propaganda campaigns, account security, and other malign influences on the social network.
At Facebook since 2013, he has also previously worked on the growth team, as well as on the company’s connectivity efforts.
Nate Cardozo, looking after privacy on Facebook’s flagship encrypted app, WhatsApp
Cardozo is another critic of Facebook that the social network managed to persuade to come on board to help clean it up. He’s now working as the privacy-policy manager for WhatsApp, which in 2016 made history by adding end-to-end encryption to all its messages, in one of the largest consumer rollouts of encryption ever.
Before joining earlier this year, he was the senior information-security counsel for EFF, the nonprofit tech advocacy group.
Will Cathcart, leading WhatsApp, the company’s flagship encrypted app
Instagram is cautiously wading into the sometimes controversial waters of encryption — but WhatsApp has been there for years.
The messaging app has had end-to-end encryption since 2016, and these days, it is Cathcart who leads it. Another long-running exec who has been at the company for almost a decade, Cathcart took the mantle at WhatsApp in March after having worked as the head of the core Facebook app.
As Facebook doubles down on its privacy initiatives, taking learnings from WhatsApp’s successes and missteps will be critical.
David Marcus, leading Facebook’s new digital-currency efforts
Libra is a wildly ambitious new bet for Facebook: an attempt to build an all-new digital currency.
Mired in controversy, it has yet to launch — but when it does, it will represent a dramatic new direction for Facebook’s business, far removed from its traditional data-hungry advertising model.
The mastermind behind it, who is now responsible for ensuring libra (and Facebook’s related crypto subsidiary, Calibra) doesn’t stray from Zuckerberg’s privacy focus is Marcus, a former PayPal exec who also led Messenger for several years.
So far, Facebook has stressed the project’s commitment to privacy, saying that Calibra won’t share user data with the Facebook mothership (except for limited cases, like law enforcement).
Delfina Eberly, a Facebook veteran overseeing privacy audit and oversight
Eberly is another veteran Facebooker that was reassigned after the FTC settlement. Previously a vice president of infrastructure tasked with keeping Facebook’s systems ticking smoothly, she is now taking the lead on privacy programs’ audit and oversight.
She joined the company in February 2010 after working as chief information officer of CriticalPath for five years.
Stan Chudnovsky, a steward of an app Facebook hopes to transform
Messenger is the third pillar in Facebook’s plan to make its messaging apps end-to-end encrypted and interoperable.
Making sure that goes off smoothly is Chudnovsky, a former PayPal exec who joined Facebook in 2014 and most recently worked as the head of product for Messenger before taking on its top job when Marcus dove headfirst into crypto.
Yvonne Cunnane, a crucial lawyer in a crucial market
The European Union’s tough privacy regulation GDPR and its willingness to battle tech giants means that it’s a critically sensitive market for Facebook.
Helping to navigate that landscape for the company is Cunnane, an Irish lawyer who works as the associate general counsel and head of data protection under Beringer, overseeing data protection issues in Europe.
Vladimir Fedorov, reviewing privacy across all of Facebook’s product and engineering teams
Fedorov has been at Facebook for more than a decade, rising from a platform engineering in 2009 to vice president of engineering on ads.
After the FTC settlement, he was tasked with leading privacy review “across all our product and engineering teams,” Facebook’s marketing chief, Carolyn Everson, wrote in a memo to ad-agency partners.
A Caltech alumnus, he also previously worked at Microsoft.
The yet-to-be-decided privacy committee on Facebook’s board
As part of Facebook’s $5 billion FTC settlement, the company has agreed to establish a Privacy Committee on its board of directors.
Its members have yet to be announced, but when it is formally created, they will have ultimate responsibility for overseeing Facebook’s privacy efforts and ensuring that users’ data is being kept safe and secure.
The FTC does not specify how many members the committee must include but states that each member must be an “independent” director. Facebook has only three independent directors on its board. They are:
- Peggy Alford, the senior vice president of core markets at PayPal Holdings and the former chief financial officer of the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative.
- Kenneth Chenault, the chairman of the venture-capital firm General Catalyst and the former CEO of American Express.
- Jeffrey Zients, the CEO of the Cranemere Group and the director of the National Economic Council during the Obama administration.
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