When thinking about building new products and services at Meta, many people consider the massive effort it takes for engineers, product managers and designers to bring new ideas to life. What’s lesser known is the behind-the-scenes work that goes into ensuring each update meets the standards for data privacy regulations which protect billions of people around the world every day.
Enter the Data Protection legal team. Behind every product announcement or policy update, there’s a data protection lawyer working to ensure compliance. It’s an exciting time to be working in this space, where data privacy regulations are constantly evolving with the advancement of technology. Read on to hear from team members across Meta’s Data Protection team in Europe on how they are shaping the future of the industry.
Working at the cutting edge of data protection policy
“Before I came to Meta, I couldn’t imagine a career that would allow me to utilize my legal knowledge at the cutting edge of policy impact. Our team is at the forefront of data protection, in an industry that is completely new. There are very few companies where data protection plays such a central role in the business model, but at Meta, data privacy is at the core of what we do. Every new feature, policy or service you read about with Meta has been influenced by our team in some way. It’s incredibly meaningful work.
I work with product teams on a variety of features—including notifications in Newsfeed and features spanning across our family of apps—to ensure new features are in compliance with the law and protect people’s privacy. We work with teams around the world which makes it super important for people to be clear about their schedules and priorities. I’m a new mom, and it’s important to me that I spend dinner and bedtime with my daughter each night. Everyone has priorities outside of work, and we all collaborate to make sure everyone’s needs are met. It’s always possible to find a solution, you just have to be open with your team.”— Madeleine V., Lead Data Protection Counsel
“Working on data protection at Meta means being in the eye of the storm in some respects. You’re at the intersection of law, policy and economics. Because of the scale and reach of our products, we’re not only complying with data protection law, we're also involved in high-profile cases—the outcome of which will shape the tech industry for years to come. The approach to privacy which we use in our products, and the outcome of the interactions we have with privacy regulators, can influence and determine how other companies around the world approach privacy and data in the future. Unlike some other legal team members, my work is not mapped to a specific product, I focus on managing queries and complaints from regulators and the people who use our products. In responding to these regulator and user queries, I have the unique opportunity to learn about every aspect of the organization. The depth and breadth of information you digest in an hour can oftentimes feel like a Formula 1 pitstop, but it brings so much meaning, interest and adrenalin to each workday.” —Vera C., Lead Data Protection Counsel
“Knowing that you work on a product that lands in two billion people’s hands every day is incredibly exciting. It’s what energizes me in my role as Lead Counsel for data protection at WhatsApp. And with the growing demand for private communication, I feel super grateful to say that I am part of a team that enables the delivery of end-to-end encrypted communication for people around the world.
One of the things I love about my job is the ability to see the impact of my work. We are constantly providing input and advising on product development, which shapes how a product launches in our region. From how the product looks, to the information provided within the app, our input is directly reflected in the product, and it’s really cool to see that come to life on people’s devices.”—Aoife G., Lead Counsel for Data Protection and Privacy, WhatsApp Ireland
Collaborating cross-functionally to build products from the ground up
“There’s an inherent tension that comes with bringing the world closer together and protecting the data and privacy of the people who use our products, and that’s what makes our work so interesting. Unlike in private practice where you often work alone or directly with a client, at Meta, our work is very cross functional. In fact, “XFN,” the acronym for cross-function, is the most important acronym to learn if you’re working here. On a daily basis, we coordinate with our US legal counterparts, work with engineers to understand the details of a new product, and provide input on what we can and can’t do from a legal perspective. We also help develop external messaging around our products and services.
Working with products is exciting because you’re collaborating with many different teams, and as the person from Data Protection assigned to the product, you have full ownership over it. My specialty is AR/VR (augmented reality and virtual reality), and because the space is still so new, we’re pushing boundaries and defining the future of the industry. At Meta, our work spans many different areas and there are countless opportunities to work on interesting and cutting-edge products. No matter what you’re interested in, there’s something here for you.”—Laura K.,Data Protection Counsel
“My work spans across all Messenger products and services that are used by people under the age of 18. One project that was particularly exciting was our launch of Facebook Dating in Europe (available only to people 18 and over). We collaborated with teams across Meta, from Engineering and Policy to Design and Communications and met every week to work through challenges, iterate on the product and meet and surpass our compliance obligations. It’s amazing to be able to work on a new product and see it through from start to finish.
Coming straight out of private practice, I was surprised by how my expertise was trusted almost immediately and how quickly people took my advice. When the Facebook Dating product was successfully launched, it was such a proud moment knowing it was my legal advice that had been pivotal.”— Jess C., Lead Data Protection Counsel
Fostering a culture of support and inclusivity
“About six months ago, I relocated from Amsterdam to Dublin to join Meta and work on privacy and product counseling for the company’s payments products. Onboarding remotely can be difficult, but to my pleasant surprise, the process didn’t lack any of the welcoming, friendly energy I was hoping for. It’s amazing that such a big organization can have the level of inclusivity and deep connections that you’d find at a small business. I was assigned two ‘buddies’ when I started, one from the Legal team and another specifically from the Data Protection team. Knowing I have people I can go to when I have questions, want to talk through issues or even connect on things outside of work has been incredibly reassuring. Now, I’m doing the same for others who are joining the company. The “pass it on” nature of inclusivity is one of the things I appreciate most about Meta’s culture.“—Bjarki B., Associate General Counsel
“Being able to work on a product that I use every day and is critical for my family members who own small businesses around the world is very special. As part of the Data Protection team supporting Meta’s integrity and health products, I’m also enabling new features, like a feature used by local organisations and blood banks to connect with donors. These features are impacting people’s lives in a positive way while ensuring their privacy. It’s rewarding to know that because of our work, smaller blood banks and organizations in Europe can now reach out to willing blood donors more quickly—and as a result, save more lives.
I am a Black woman, and I come from a non-traditional legal background. For me, diversity of experience and culture is really important, and it’s what I love about the Data Protection team at Meta. We come from all different backgrounds, but we're all incredibly curious. The work we do is challenging and tough, but I’m continuously surprised by how warm and friendly my team members are. Meta can be intimidating at first because you’re surrounded by so many brilliant people, but there’s always a seat at the table for people who are curious and want to do meaningful work.”—Nicolette M., Data Protection Counsel
This post, originally published on March 25, 2021, was updated on October 20, 2022, to reflect our shift to Meta and new details about team members, roles and responsibilities.