Let’s Download us Some Facebook Profiles
Facebook seems to be slipping with their privacy issues again. Well, at least that is probably what the 100 million users whose personal information became public think. As far as Facebook goes, they are saying no private data was compromised – nothing new there.
So, how did this single file containing the personal information of 100 million users become available for download? We can thank Mr. Ron Bowes for that.
Ron Bowes is an online security consultant for the infamous torrent website Pirate Bay. He developed a code that scanned the 500 million facebook profiles for any information that was not hidden by security settings. The results of his code presented 171 million names with 100 million of them being unique.
The 100 million names and private information were then compiled into a file, which is now available for download on Pirate Bay – go figure. As of this morning the file has already been downloaded several thousand times.
How does this affect Facebook users?
- Anyone whose name is on that list that decides to now change their information from public to private, Bowes and those who have downloaded the file will still be able to access the information that was public when the file was compiled.
- Anyone whose set their privacy setting so their name would not show up in Facebook’s search results can now be found if they had connections with users whose name was searchable.
Who should get the blame on this one?
It’s easy to point your finger at Mr. Bowes and call him the bad guy, but did he really do anything wrong? I mean, essentially he just collected a vast amount of information that was made public on a public domain. Sure, this could be questioned as ethical, but as we all know ethical behavior on the internet is a gray area.
According to MSNBC, in a statement e-mailed to them, Facebook concurred that the information on that list was already available online.
I am sure that is exactly the kind of reassurance 500 million Facebook users were looking for. The problem I have here is that Facebook has made their privacy issues so complicated that a lot of the users (we know now at least 20%) do not understand how to adjust their privacy settings.
Let’s get real for one second. Facebook, a company that has the brain and man power to predict and prevent an attack like this did nothing. Once again, this further reinforces Facebook’s negligence when it comes to their users.
If you still have that finger pointing at Mr. Bowes, think about Facebook’s responsibility with this issue. Maybe then you will lower your finger and raise one aimed at Facebook, and if it’s a different finger, I don’t blame you.