Facebook Fires Security Engineer Who Used 'Privileged Access' to Stalk Women

A Facebook security engineer who was accused of abusing "privileged access" in order to stalk women online has swiftly been fired from the position.

The latest controversy to hit the U.S. social networking giant first emerged on Monday, after a screenshot was posted online which purported to show the individual boasting of being a "professional stalker." Messages were obtained and released by Jackie Stokes, founder of cybersecurity company Spyglass Security.

"I've been made aware that a security engineer currently employed at Facebook is likely using privileged access to stalk women online. I have Tinder logs," Stokes wrote, adding the person's identity was confirmed using information from Tinder and LinkedIn. "I really, really hope I'm wrong about this," Stokes added.

One message allegedly sent by the Facebook ex-staffer read: "I also try to figure out who hackers are in real life so professional stalker. So out of habit I have to say that you are hard to find lol." The recipient, who later shared the conversation with Stokes, answered: "Is that what you're doing? Trying to internet stalk me?"

News of the tweet was first reported by Motherboard on Monday. The firing was today revaled by NBC News. Newsweek has confirmed the dismissal.

A Facebook spokesperson said: "We are investigating this as a matter of urgency. It's important that people's information is kept secure and private when they use Facebook. It's why we have strict policy controls and technical restrictions so employees only access the data they need to do their jobs – for example to fix bugs, manage customer support issues or respond to valid legal requests.

"Employees who abuse these controls will be fired."

Facebook has been under the media spotlight in recent weeks following the allegation that up to 87 million user accounts had been exploited by British political profiling firm Cambridge Analytica. This week, during Facebook's F8 developer conference in San Jose, California, CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced that the social network was planning to roll out a new dating service to rival the likes of Tinder.

On Twitter, Stokes thanked Facebook for acting quickly to investigate, specifically praising Alex Stamos, the company's chief security officer, for the "deft handling of a dicey issue during a time when words and actions matter more than ever."

Facebook logo
A picture illustration shows a Facebook logo reflected in a person's eye, in Zenica, March 13, 2015. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration/File Photo