According to newly unsealed court documents, two experienced Meta engineers were questioned about how the firm maintains and tracks user data and claimed that they don’t believe anyone at the company could assemble all of the data pertaining to a single user.
The two engineers were questioned in court as part of a consumer privacy case stemming from the 2018 Cambridge Analytica scandal.
The engineers were questioned in March of this year, but the transcript of the session was only recently released, as The Intercept first revealed.
A court-appointed technical expert led the questioning, attempting to determine exactly what information Facebook collects about users and where it is all stored.
Eugene Zarashaw, who works as an engineering director at Meta and has been there for over nine years, was one of the engineers. The second was Steven Elia, who is identified on LinkedIn as a software engineering manager who worked at Facebook for 11 years.
Previously, when asked what information it holds on users, Facebook presented the court with its “Download Your Information” tool, which was found to lack all of the information the court desired to check.
The court-appointed expert inquired as to who at Facebook could answer the question, “Where is all of the information on a single user stored?”
“I don’t believe there is anyone alive who could answer that question. To even be able to answer that question, a significant team effort would be required “Zarashaw responded.
When asked if user data and behaviour are saved in ad systems, Elia replied, “I would also agree that there isn’t a single human who would identify or be familiar enough with all of these.” Individual developers couldn’t identify where all of the data for a single user was stored across the company’s servers, according to a Meta spokeswoman.