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'They'll Squash You Like a Bug': How Silicon Valley Keeps a Lid on Leakers (theguardian.com) 99

The public image of Silicon Valley's tech giants is all colourful bicycles, ping-pong tables, beanbags and free food, but behind the cartoonish facade is a ruthless code of secrecy. From a report: They rely on a combination of Kool-Aid, digital and physical surveillance, legal threats and restricted stock units to prevent and detect intellectual property theft and other criminal activity. However, those same tools are also used to catch employees and contractors who talk publicly, even if it's about their working conditions, misconduct or cultural challenges within the company. While Apple's culture of secrecy, which includes making employees sign project-specific NDAs and covering unlaunched products with black cloths, has been widely reported, companies such as Google and Facebook have long put the emphasis on internal transparency.

Zuckerberg hosts weekly meetings where he shares details of unreleased new products and strategies in front of thousands of employees. Even junior staff members and contractors can see what other teams are working on by looking at one of many of the groups on the company's internal version of Facebook. "When you first get to Facebook you are shocked at the level of transparency. You are trusted with a lot of stuff you don't need access to," said Evans, adding that during his induction he was warned not to look at ex-partners' Facebook accounts.

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'They'll Squash You Like a Bug': How Silicon Valley Keeps a Lid on Leakers

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  • by known_coward_69 ( 4151743 ) on Friday March 16, 2018 @03:26PM (#56271389)

    Your employer is paying you for a service. Don't help the competition and screw up their business. Don't blab about your employer on social media or anywhere else.

    If you're too stupid to realize that, you'll have a hard time at life

    • by Rakarra ( 112805 ) on Friday March 16, 2018 @03:29PM (#56271407)

      Your employer is paying you for a service. Don't help the competition and screw up their business. Don't blab about your employer on social media or anywhere else.

      I learned pretty quickly: I like my job. I want my company to do well, and I want to do well as well. I have no social need to appear 'cool' on the Internet; I'm not that weak. Others do not need to know what products my company is launching. They don't.

      • by tattood ( 855883 )

        I have no social need to appear 'cool' on the Internet; I'm not that weak.

        The people doing the leaking, are not doing it to be cool on the Internet. They do it because they get some compensation ($$) from the person they leak the information to.

        • Wow. This is the most ignorant comment I've seen in a long time.

          Back that up. Right now. Who got paid, for what?

          I'm not defending Facebook. Quite the contrary. But if we want to get at the truth we must filter out the BS.

          So: offer something that will get through the filter. Otherwise you are quite literally wasting everybody's time.
  • Are there companies that treat leakers well? I would think most (successful) companies put a lot of work into keeping their secrets secret.
  • by enjar ( 249223 ) on Friday March 16, 2018 @04:35PM (#56271835) Homepage

    I am privy to new features, bugs, big initiatives/deliverables, ship dates, financial data, methodologies, long term vision, etc at my company. Management is very clear this kind of stuff is confidential until the official software is released, or should never be released since it is considered proprietary, confidential, or may slip a release if the project doesn't work out for some reason. It happens. We do share certain information with partners, big customers, etc, but all under NDA and with similar disclaimers (e.g. "this is planned for this release but it is never guaranteed").

    If I decided to blab this stuff somehow I would 100% expect to be fired if I was found out. I can read and comprehend the "CONFIDENTIAL -- DO NOT RELEASE" thing that's on all documents and presentations like this.

    • Although this is obviously the way the world works, I would point out it both a) leaves us open to insider trading and b) distorts the free market via incomplete information among consumers.

      • I work for a financial company. We're not allowed to trade without getting permission and we have to specify the stock I'm buying. Company shares I can't buy except for special periods during the year, only with permission and I have to hold them a minimum of 6 months or something similar.

        My employer has access to my broker account and knows about any trade within a day or less so it's not like I can buy a stock and keep it secret. If I don't report a broker account, my employer will find out anyway because

      • That sounds nice in theory, but it is not logically possible to have complete information available, ever. What would that even look like? Should I let the world, including our competitors, read all my work email? Does the public get to peruse our defect tracking system? Should a put a webcam in every meeting room and broadcast it through a youtube channel?

        As a practical matter, lines must be drawn somewhere and reasonable attempts must be made to discourage employees from crossing those lines, so that

        • Oh, yeah, complete information is not going to realistically happen. I just find the tradeoffs there fascinating. I mean, companies need secret information to function (I think. I'm not sure. 100% public disclosure of defects would be nice, but lead to them not getting entered into the system. The finance world would get turned upside down, but I htink I'm okay with that.)

          • The tradeoffs are interesting. It is worth noting that a century or so ago, insider trading was simply legal. When the question came up before a judge, the judge just shrugged and said that it seems natural enough that being CEO has its benefits when it comes to dealing in the company stock. It was legislation that brought the idea of insider trading into being.

      • Although this is obviously the way the world works, I would point out it both a) leaves us open to insider trading and b) distorts the free market via incomplete information among consumers.

        Most companies that make this sort of information generally available to employees inform those employees that they're legally considered insiders by the SEC and that they are barred from trading the company's stock except during specific trading windows.

        Executives at all publicly-traded companies fall under these restrictions.

  • by b0s0z0ku ( 752509 ) on Friday March 16, 2018 @05:30PM (#56272127)

    At the end of the day, Facebook is an ad-supported self-publishing platform, nothing more or less in the end. Whether news about a new feature comes out today or in two weeks isn't going to make or break their business model. The witch-hunting smells of inflated senses of self-importance.

    Random car and personal searches? Access to personal email and phone calls written into contracts? We're not talking about Los Alamos in the 1940s, where they designed weapons capable of killing millions, yet security is on that level. Why? Inflated egos of management of a company that thinks it's more important to the world than it actually is.

    Remember MySpace? AOL? No? Good. That's where FB will be in 15 years.

  • No, they keep the bugs in and squash the staff.

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