Leaked documents appear to show how a lawsuit with a third-party app almost disclosed Facebook's financial results early

  • Someone anonymously published a cache of what appears to be confidential emails between Facebook executives, discussing a lawsuit with Six4Three, a developer that’s suing Facebook in the US.
  • The unverified documents, seen by Business Insider and also reported in The Guardian, appear to detail a near-miss situation in which a third-party app almost led to Facebook’s accidental exposure of its financial earnings ahead of schedule.
  • CEO Mark Zuckerberg appeared to be copied into some of those messages.
  • Some of them are recreated below.
  • Facebook told Business Insider that it is reviewing the documents and their authenticity.

A trove of what appears to be confidential emails between Facebook executives has reportedly leaked online, and it apparently shows the company’s top brass discussing a narrowly-avoided disaster in which a lawsuit with a third-party app developer almost led to Facebook disclosing financial earnings ahead of schedule.

About 60 pages of un-redacted documents from an ongoing lawsuit between Facebook and Six4Three, a developer that is suing Facebook in the US, were published anonymously on GitHub on Friday, The Guardian reported. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg can be seen copied into some of the messages on the thread.

Business Insider has also seen the documents, but have not been able to independently confirm the authenticity of the emails.

A representative for Facebook told Business Insider on Saturday: “We are reviewing the documents and their authenticity.”

‘Holy crap’

In one part of the leaked documents, then-Facebook Vice President Michael Vernal appeared to discuss a “near-fatal” issue with a third-party app, and asked colleagues to “make sure what it’s doing is clear and not deceptive.”

Then-Facebook director of productive management Avichal Garg responded: “Wow that would have been a disaster.”

Vernal then said, according to the documents: “If Mark had accidentally disclosed earnings ahead of time because a platform app violated his privacy … literally, that would have basically been fatal for Login / Open Graph / etc,” referring to Facebook developer apps.

“Holy crap,” Garg is seen to have said.

Vernal then warned everyone on the thread: “DO NOT REPEAT THIS STORY OFF OF THIS THREAD,” adding: “I’m super, super serious here.”

Zuckerberg appears not to have been part of that message chain.

Mike VernalFacebookFormer Facebook Vice President Michael Vernal, who was ensnared in the leaked documents published by The Guardian.

In a statement to Business Insider, a Facebook representative said the documents “by design tell one side of a story and omit important context.”

The spokesman said: “Like the other documents that were cherrypicked and released in violation of a court order last year, these by design tell one side of a story and omit important context.”

“As we’ve said, these selective leaks came from a lawsuit where Six4Three, the creators of an app known as Pikinis, hoped to force Facebook to share information on friends of the app’s users,” they added. “These documents have been sealed by a Californian court so we’re not able to discuss them in detail.”

Six4Three is suing Facebook after its business – specifically, an app named Pikinis that surfaced images of people’s Facebook friends in their swimwear – was destroyed when the social network tightened up its privacy policies in 2015.

Late last year the British parliament published a cache of secret Facebook documents from Six4Three under parliamentary privilege in the UK.

Read more:
The secret Facebook documents have just been published by British Parliament

The papers show Facebook “whitelisting” firms in return for access to data and taking “aggressive positions” against rivals, such as Twitter’s defunct video app Vine.

Business Insider Emails & Alerts

Site highlights each day to your inbox.

Follow Business Insider Australia on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram.