Some 4,000 pages of documents shared with the network news organization by a journalist affiliated with the ICIJ, the same organization that helped bring us the Panama Papers leaks, revealed that Facebook had employed sensitive user data as a bargaining chip to attract major advertisers and close other deals between 2011 and 2015, when the company was struggling to cement its business model following its botched 2012 IPO.
The thousands of newly shared documents were anonymously leaked to the British investigative journalist Duncan Campbell, who shared them with a handful of media organizations: NBC News, Computer Weekly and Süddeutsche Zeitung. Campbell, a founding member of the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, is a computer forensics expert who has worked on international investigations including on offshore banking and big tobacco. The documents appear to be the same ones obtained by Parliament in late 2018 as part of an investigation into Facebook. Facebook did not question the authenticity of the documents NBC News obtained.