Zuckerberg calls Obama to voice frustration over NSA

Follows new report that says NSA impersonated a Facebook server to install malware on millions of computers

Mark Zuckerberg, founder and chief executive officer of Facebook Inc., listens to an audience member's question during an interview at the Newseum in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Wednesday, Sept. 18, 2013.
Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg phoned President Barack Obama on Thursday to express concerns over Internet privacy, and said later on his Facebook page that he is “confused and frustrated” with the United States’ domestic surveillance program.

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

The White House confirmed that the two spoke, but did not disclose any details about the call.

The message from the creator of the world’s largest social network comes just a day after an article, posted on journalist Glenn Greenwald’s newly launched news website The Intercept, said that the National Security Agency has masqueraded as a phony Facebook server to infect millions of computers around the world with malware. This reportedly allows the agency to secretly record audio from a computer’s built-in microphone and use its webcam to take snapshots without the user’s knowledge.

The NSA has called the report "inaccurate."

"NSA uses its technical capabilities only to support lawful and appropriate foreign intelligence operations, all of which must be carried out in strict accordance with its authorities," a statement from the agency read.

The report was the latest to raise concerns over security and privacy issues after former NSA contractor Edward Snowden last year released a slew of documents detailing the NSA’s international and domestic spying efforts.

Zuckerberg’s comments also follow a report from Stanford University that revealed the amount of personal information obtainable through the NSA’s telephone metadata surveillance program is far more than what the federal government has said was possible. Another recent report from media rights advocacy group Reporters Without Borders said the NSA’s program was on the same level as "authoritarian countries such as Iran, China, Turkmenistan, Saudi Arabia and Bahrain" – all of which the organization said use national security to "justify their own violations of freedom of information."

"The Internet is our shared space," Zuckerberg says in the Facebook post. "It helps us connect. It spreads opportunity. It enables us to learn. It gives us a voice. It makes us stronger and safer together."

"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."

However, many social media users immediately saw irony in Zuckerberg calling the government to complain about privacy issues. Facebook is routinely criticized for making users’ personal information more readily accessible to the public and to advertisers.

"It’s cute when Facebook says they are concerned about your privacy," Facebook user Bo Harmon said. His comment received more than 2,000 "likes."

Tech companies have been increasingly expressing frustrations with government surveillance programs. Executives from Facebook, Google, Yahoo, Twitter, AOL, Microsoft, Apple and LinkedIn signed an open letter in December 2013 calling for massive changes to the spying programs, such as making the government unable to collect bulk data from Internet communications.

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