Facebook's Unredacted Emails

Facebook is in the news again regarding a privacy issue, and as it has often been in the past, the issue is related to how it handles user data.  Emails that were revealed as part of a court case showed that Facebook had been toying with the idea of charging developers a minimum amount to gain access to user data.  It’s also alleged that Facebook exchanged data access for settling a copyright dispute.

There’s something to be said for the fact that Facebook is a business and is designed to provide a return on investment for its shareholders, so avenues that lead toward this goal should be explored.  Then again, even considering this option might be seen as a bit hypocritical for a company that has explained to Congress that, “We don’t sell your data.”

The documents are a part of a lawsuit brought by app developer Six4Three which claims that Facebook shut them out from access to user information, resulting in a breach of contract.

What’s interesting to us at Extract is less caught up in the actual details of the case, but rather how these revelations surrounding the case managed to be disseminated at all.  The emails, it turns out, had been improperly redacted, allowing anyone who copied and pasted them into a text editor to view text that appeared to be covered by black bars.

The website Mashable points out that the District Court for Northern California does have a guide to help law offices redact properly, although no one is sure what exactly went wrong in this specific case.

Sensitive information comes in all shapes and sizes but shares the commonality of needing to be redacted in public documents.  Whether documents contain trade secrets or social security numbers, the need for redaction is important.

Extract’s redaction solution ensures that there’s no trace of the original information, creating a new file without any metadata or other ways of accessing what was once there.  Our software automatically reads a document like a human would, using context clues, proven rulesets, and machine learning to confirm that no piece of personally identifiable information is missed.

So before you resort to some of the other manually-intensive, but still error-prone methods of redacting like a pair of scissors or a redaction pen, take a look at what we can do for you, or reach out today for more information or a demo of our software.


Chris is a Marketing Manager at Extract with experience in product development, data analysis, and both traditional and digital marketing.  Chris received his bachelor's degree in English from Bucknell University and has an MBA from the University of Notre Dame.  A passionate marketer, Chris strives to make complex ideas more accessible to those around him in a compelling way.