Employee: That’s just active users. As far as total accounts, including those that are potentially fake, disabled and whatnot, we’re over three hundred million. The two hundred twenty million are users who have logged on and done something with the site in the last thirty days.
Rumpus: You said they’re changing the policy of keeping all information.
Employee: No. They’re never changing that policy. We still keep all information. What I was referring to, is that if anything, we’re going to start deleting more photos for performance reasons. We are the largest photo distributor in the world.
Rumpus: Really? Is that obvious?
Employee: I don’t know the exact figures off the top of my head, but I want to say upwards of a trillion photos, and then think about six copies of each. This is the epitome of a needle in a haystack. When we need to load a webpage in half a second, we need to go and find upwards of a thousand photos — think about your newsfeed — in one get [snaps], and instantaneously. It’s hard to do.
Rumpus: You’ve previously mentioned a master password, which you no longer use.
Employee: I’m not sure when exactly it was deprecated, but we did have a master password at one point where you could type in any user’s user ID, and then the password. I’m not going to give you the exact password, but with upper and lower case, symbols, numbers, all of the above, it spelled out ‘Chuck Norris,’ more or less. It was pretty fantastic.
Rumpus: This was accessible by any Facebook employee?
Employee: Technically, yes. But it was pretty much limited to the original engineers, who were basically the only people who knew about it. It wasn’t as if random people in Human Resources were using this password to log into profiles. It was made and designed for engineering reasons. But it was there, and any employee could find it if they knew where to look.
I should also say that it was only available internally. If I were to log in from a high school or library, I couldn’t use it. You had to be in the Facebook office, using the Facebook ISP.
Rumpus: Do you think Facebook employees ever abused the privilege of having universal access?
Employee: I know it has happened in the past, because at least two people have been fired for it that I know of.
Rumpus: What did they do?
Employee: I know one of them went in and manipulated some other person’s data, changed their religious views or something like that. I don’t remember exactly what it was, but he got reported, got found out, got fired.
Rumpus: Have you ever logged in to anyone’s account?