Facebook now hiring positions for 'safety,' 'security,' and 'trust'

8 months ago by Joshua Fruhlinger in Features, Trends
FLDphotos / iStock

In the wake of news that Cambridge Analytica accessed and used over 50 million Facebook ($NASDAQ:FB) users' private information for nefarious political purposes, CNN aired a surprisingly safe, contained, and edited inteview with the social network's CEO, Mark Zuckerberg.

There were, however, many things to parse from that interivew (and others with The New York Times and Re/Code), but his most repeated refrain - and possibly official company platform on the matter - went something like this:

We're going to review thousands of apps. So, this is gonna be an intensive process, but this is important. I mean this is something that in retrospect we clearly should have done, upfront, with Cambridge Analytica. We should not have trusted the certification that they gave us. And we're not gonna make that mistake again. I mean this is our responsibility to our community, is to make sure that we secure the data that they're sharing with us.

And now, in a statement released today titled "Cracking Down on Platform Abuse," Facebook promised it was hard at work to plug any remaining leaks.

This all sounds like an immense amount of work and dozens of jobs with massive responsibilities. 

Who's going to do it? Not Zuckerberg, apparently:

"What I would really like to do is find a way to get our policies set in a way that reflects the values of the community so I am not the one making those decisions," he told Re/Code.

Hiring before it's too late

Facebook hiring, in general, has been on a nonstop upswing since Thinknum began tracking the company's hiring practices in 2016.

Zuckberberg noted last night that when his company originally made data available via Facebook apps, it came with usage policies attached that Facebook assumed its app creators would honor. That clearly didn't happen. In the case at hand, app creator Aleksandr Kogan sold his data to Cambridge Analytica, violating Facebook's usage policies. Kogan argued in a recent interview that what he did was totally normal, but Facebook disagreed, and shut him out pending further investigation.

But disagreeing isn't enough. As the graph below shows, Facebook is strengthening its stable of in-house legal talent, beginning with a massive uptick in open Legal positions beginning in the fall of 2017.

Counting legal category openings is too easy, though. Any growing company - especially one that deals in information and privacy - would be hiring as much legal know-how as it could.

So we looked across Facebook openings based on keywords that appear to be targeted toward a future riddled with concerns: over privacy, security, safety, and trust. The results, while perhaps not entirely surprising, are very telling.

Facebook job titles that include "Security"

At the core of the issue at hand is the way that Facebook allows app developers to capture user data, sometimes unbeknownst to those users and their friends. Looking under the "security" keywords, we see fresh Facebook positions such as "Application Security Engineer" and "Security Engineer, Insider Threat" among many others.

Facebook job titles that include "Safety"

After what was revealed about user data and how Facebook makes it available to its business partners, users were left feeling unsure about their safety on the social network. People want to know what the company is doing assure their safety, especially in an environment that has shown that there are dark actors in the world who are willing to use information for harm.

One such opening, "Safety Specialist, Investigator", looks to find someone who will protect the Facebook users' safety based on, perhaps ironically, quantitative user behavior:

We are seeking a self-starter with a passion for mitigating real world harm, protecting our community and being the voice of our users. We count on our Safety Specialists to deliver both qualitative and quantitative insight into user behavior in order to drive prevention and detection solutions at scale.

NOTE: A Reddit reader suggested that we look at this keyword pull as a percentage of all job openings to see if it's not just a constant along with a growing company. We agreed that this is a reasonable concern, so we pulled that data and, as you can see below - the percentage of "Safety" jobs at Facebook did indeed grow as a percentage of all job openings.

Facebook job titles that include "Policy"

Zuckerberg made it clear to CNN and other that its mission moving forward would be to learn from what happened, investigate past offenders, and create new policies that are designed to protect users in the future. And, in fact, the company has very recently opened dozens of positions with the word "Policy" in their titles.

One such position is called a "Policy Programs Manager" whose job it is to work on programs - in this case in the APAC region - that reach out to communities to deal with policies relating to everything from social good to - yes, privacy and security.

Facebook job titles that include "Privacy"

Outside of the global and political threats that abound, the biggest issue at play in this controversy is Facebook users' privacy. Jobs with the term "Privacy" in their titles have spiked recently, but still spiking at a meager 16 openings.

One choice position is called "Privacy Program Manager, Consumer Products" based at the company's Menlo Park, CA headquarters. This position requires that the applicant have a "substantive experience working on privacy issues in the technology or consumer product space." In fact, the first responsibility listed for this job is the unenviable task of managing Facebook's "cross-functional privacy review process for new products and features."

Facebook job titles that include "Threat"

If users are concerned about their privacy, and if Facebook is looking to act on those concerns, it will need to bring on talent that is capable of unearthing threats to said concerns. Enter the "Threat Intelligence Analyst" who will be tasked with identifying and investigating "malicious actors with the interest and capability to target Facebook users and infrastructure." 

There maybe a few people leaving the FBI and CIA soon, so this could be an option for them.

Facebook job titles that include "Trust"

Twitter is ablaze with the tech elite shouting that the world needs a new social network that will dethrone Facebook in the name of trust. After all, if Facebook is allowing dark actors access to our private data, can we trust it?

Indeed, Facebook openings with the keyword "Trust" has been on an uptick. As of now, this subset includes a tiny numbe of positions - only 8 openings at its peak in August 2017, but if we were gamblers here at Thinknum Media, we'd bet there will be a few more Facebook positions focused on building user trust.

One such position, called an "Anti-Abuse Specialist, Trust & Safety", is based out of Facebook's Dublin office for its WhatsApp messenger. This position is charged with developing a "deep understanding of abuse and how it affects WhatsApp."

Good luck to those who take the above positions, and godspeed.

Joshua Fruhlinger

Joshua has been writing about technology, lifestyle, and business for over 20 years. He's one of the original writers and editors for Engadget, and still writes a...

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