Facebook starts investigation after employee allegedly used 'privileged' access to stalk women

Facebook has launched an investigation following an allegation that a security engineer at the social network used “privileged access” to personal data to cyber-stalk women.

The claim was made on Sunday by Jackie Stokes, founder of cybersecurity advisory firm Spyglass Security. “I’ve been made aware that a security engineer currently employed at Facebook is likely using privileged access to stalk women online,” she tweeted. “I have Tinder logs. What should I do with this information?”

Stokes added that she was not a target of the stalker.

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In another tweet, Stokes wrote that “multiple senior Facebook employees” have reached out to her to express their concern over the issue.

Citing a Twitter direct message from Stokes, Motherboard reported that the Spyglass Security founder has provided relevant information to Facebook’s Chief Security Officer Alex Stamos.

Facebook told Fox News that it is investigating the allegation. “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," explained Stamos, in a statement emailed to Fox News. "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.”

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A person with knowledge of the situation told Fox News that the employee at the center of the alleged cyber-stalking scandal has been terminated.

David Kennedy, CEO of security consultancy TrustedSec, told Fox News that a rogue employee could potentially cause big problems for a company like Facebook. "Rogue employees are a serious threat to any business, but the risk becomes substantially greater when your company stores the private information of a large number of clients or has access to key services like cloud-based storage,” he explained, via email. “It is important to have multiple layers of security in place that will prevent - or, at a minimum, detect - malicious behavior by a company insider.”

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Facebook has not yet responded to a request for comment on this story from Fox News.

The company's probe comes at a time when the social network is dealing with the fallout of the Cambridge Analytica data scandal.

Reports emerged recently that data mining firm Cambridge Analytica improperly used information from as many as 87 million accounts on the social network, prompting Facebook to suspend the U.K.-based company. Cambridge Analytica, which has ties to Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential election campaign, denies any wrongdoing.

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Most of the affected users are in the U.S., Facebook has previously said.

On Tuesday Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced plans to launch a dating service on the social network.

This story has been updated with Facebook's response.

Follow James Rogers on Twitter @jamesjrogers