Pixel Envy

Written by Nick Heer.

Facebook Teases Upcoming Investigation Into Documents Leaked From Facebook

Facebook’s John Pinette, VP of communications, in a Twitter thread:1

Right now 30+ journalists are finishing up a coordinated series of articles based on thousands of pages of leaked documents. We hear that to get the docs, outlets had to agree to the conditions and a schedule laid down by the PR team that worked on earlier leaked docs.

Tech companies love to announce bad news when industry press is distracted by an ongoing Apple product launch. I guess this is today’s attempt: Facebook is trying to get ahead of what seems to be a comprehensive investigation by journalists. I am looking forward to that.

Edward Ongweso Jr, Vice:

It is common for various entities to distribute information to journalists on the condition that they don’t publish before a certain time. This doesn’t mean that the information is somehow suspect by default, or that it will be reported on in an uncritical manner. Facebook surely knows what an embargo is, because it regularly issues them, expects reporters or outlets to adhere to them, and will quickly ignore reporters who break them. If you see a lot of news outlets publish detailed articles about a specific thing at a specific time, is it likely they were subject to an embargo. This practice is controversial but extremely common. On one hand, it’s a way for companies to control the spread of information and to gatekeep who has access to it. On the other, embargoes allow journalists time to report out a story before it “breaks,” often resulting in more detailed and thorough articles.

Journalists from multiple outlets working together under disclosure rules have been responsible for several groundbreaking investigations into tax avoidance by businesses and wealthy people. This is nothing new, and it is unclear to me who Pinette is trying to intimidate by tweeting about it.

  1. If only Facebook had a website where it could publish statements from its communications team. ↩︎