Meta Mark Zuckerberg
Facebook’s internal presentation was unsealed in a California court

Senators Mark Warner and Marco Rubio – who lead the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence – wrote to Mark Zuckerberg on Monday, after it came to light that over 240,000 software developers in “high-risk countries” could potentially have accessed Facebook users’ data prior to 2014.

In the letter, the senators said: “We have grave concerns about the extent to which this access could have enabled foreign intelligence service activity.”

The details about those developers were revealed in an internal Facebook presentation from 2018, which was unsealed on January 27 as part of a California lawsuit related to the Cambridge Analytica privacy scandal

Last December, Meta agreed to pay $725 million to settle the lawsuit, which accused it of sharing users’ data with the political consulting firm. In April 2018, Facebook said that 87 million people were affected by the Cambridge Analytica scandal.

Facebook said in the 2018 presentation that its intention was to “review the developers who created the most apps as potentially raising increased risk.” It suggested there were roughly 245,000 developers — including 87,000 in China, 42,000 in Russia, 76,000 in Vietnam, and some in North Korea, Cuba, and Iran — who could have accessed Facebook user data until interfaces were changed in 2014.

Facebook defined the countries as “high-risk” because they “may be governed by potentially risky data storage and disclosure rules or be more likely to house malicious actors.”

Warner and Rubio said the investigation was “especially remarkable given that Facebook has never been permitted to operate in” China.

They asked Zuckerberg for an estimate of the number of Americans whose data was shared with the developers, and whether it could have “enabled malicious advertising or other fraudulent activity by foreign actors.”

The software developers listed created Facebook apps before 2014, and while the precise data they could have accessed isn’t detailed in the internal slideshow, CNN reports that the period was before the company restricted third-party access to data like political views and relationship status, among other things.

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