Mark Zuckerberg Is ‘Confused and Frustrated’ With President Obama Over Facebook Snooping

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Not poking the White House any time soon.
Not poking the White House any time soon. Photo: David Ramos/Getty Images

Mark Zuckerberg is probably wishing he'd never put on a suit for President Obama.

In a Facebook post today, Zuckerberg expressed his anger over revelations, leaked by Edward Snowden and published by The Intercept yesterday, that a secret NSA program exploited Facebook to gain access to users' computers. "The US government should be the champion for the internet, not a threat," Zuckerberg wrote. "They need to be much more transparent about what they're doing, or otherwise people will believe the worst."

Zuckerberg wrote that he had "called President Obama to express my frustration" over the NSA's program, which goes by the code name QUANTUMHAND. "Unfortunately," he added, "it seems like it will take a very long time for true full reform."

As a refresher, here's how QUANTUMHAND reportedly works:

[The NSA] disguises itself as a fake Facebook server. When a target attempts to log in to the social media site, the NSA transmits malicious data packets that trick the target’s computer into thinking they are being sent from the real Facebook. By concealing its malware within what looks like an ordinary Facebook page, the NSA is able to hack into the targeted computer and covertly siphon out data from its hard drive.

A Facebook spokesman told The Intercept yesterday that the company had “no evidence of this alleged activity.”

Zuckerberg, who has previously said that privacy is no longer a "social norm," makes an odd spokesman for the safeguarding of information. But his "frustration" (read: outrage) with Obama and the NSA seems genuine. And as Republican politicians like Chris Christie cozy up to Zuckerberg and his billions, perhaps the QUANTUMHAND incident is the wedge that will finally lead the cherubic Facebook CEO to consider joining their camp full-time.

Here's Zuckerberg's full note:

As the world becomes more complex and governments everywhere struggle, trust in the internet is more important today than ever.

The internet is our shared space. It helps us connect. It spreads opportunity. It enables us to learn. It gives us a voice. It makes us stronger and safer together.

To keep the internet strong, we need to keep it secure. That's why at Facebook we spend a lot of our energy making our services and the whole internet safer and more secure. We encrypt communications, we use secure protocols for traffic, we encourage people to use multiple factors for authentication and we go out of our way to help fix issues we find in other people's services.

The internet works because most people and companies do the same. We work together to create this secure environment and make our shared space even better for the world.

This is why I've been so confused and frustrated by the repeated reports of the behavior of the US government. When our engineers work tirelessly to improve security, we imagine we're protecting you against criminals, not our own government.

The US government should be the champion for the internet, not a threat. They need to be much more transparent about what they're doing, or otherwise people will believe the worst.

I've called President Obama to express my frustration over the damage the government is creating for all of our future. Unfortunately, it seems like it will take a very long time for true full reform.

So it's up to us -- all of us -- to build the internet we want. Together, we can build a space that is greater and a more important part of the world than anything we have today, but is also safe and secure. I'm committed to seeing this happen, and you can count on Facebook to do our part.