Photojournalist Nick Stern says he was approached by security guards for taking the snaps – on a public street – and told to drive to Facebook’s headquarters in Palo Alto, California, in April 2011.
When he got there, he says he was escorted inside by the guards and met by two senior Facebook employees who told him he was breaching Zuckerberg’s privacy and must stop taking photos of the billionaire. Speaking to DailyMail.com, the photographer reportedly accused the tech giant of hypocrisy in light of the recent Cambridge Analytica data leak reports. ‘It’s ironic that Zuckerberg will go to such extraordinary lengths to protect his own privacy – when the privacy of millions of people doesn’t appear to have been high on his priority list,’ he told the Mail.
The 50-year-old, who lives in Los Angeles but is originally from Hertford in the UK, said the way the meeting was conducted left him feeling ‘intimidated’. ‘I never once invaded his privacy – I only ever took pictures of him when he was out in public doing normal things like walking his dog,’ Nick said.
He was becoming a huge public figure – so people were interested to learn about who this guy was. ‘A short time after the dog mess pictures were published I was sat in my car when a security guy pulled up in a golf buggy and told me I had been summoned to Facebook headquarters. ‘I was shocked I didn’t even know how they knew who I was. ‘The security followed me all the way to the parking lot at Facebook and I was then escorted to a meeting with Debbie Frost, who was then head of public policy and Jonathan Thaw from the PR department.
‘They told me that Zuckerberg’s private life and the life of those around him is private and should remain so – and that I had no right pursuing him or stories about him to publish. ‘This is despite the fact that he was quickly becoming a huge public figure – and Facebook had millions of users around the world. ‘They didn’t threaten me as such but it was an intimidating set up. ‘If anything the pictures were endearing – especially the dog mess ones – it showed that despite being a billionaire he wasn’t afraid of dirty work.’ Debbie Frost is now Vice-President Global Affairs and Communications at Facebook and Jonathan Thaw is Vice President of Communications.
Zuckerberg, 33, has been summoned to Parliament to answer questions on Facebook’s alleged involvement in the Cambridge Analytica revelations. A whistleblower revealed that data from 50 million users was improperly harvested to target voters in close-run elections including Donald Trump’s presidential campaign and Brexit. Facebook shares have fallen almost 18% since March 17 when the allegations were made. Zuckerberg has repeatedly apologised and bought full-page advertisements in US and British newspapers promising to do more to restrict access to users’ information.