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Surprise: Details of 100 million Facebook users published online

• MSNBC.msn.com
 
The personal details of 100 million Facebook users have been collected and published online in a downloadable file, meaning they will now be unable to make their publicly available information private. However, Facebook downplayed the issue, saying that no private data had been compromised. The information was posted by Ron Bowes, an online security consultant, on the Internet site Pirate Bay. Bowes used code to scan the 500 million Facebook profiles for information not hidden by privacy settings. The resulting file, which allows people to perform searches of various different types, has been downloaded by several thousand people. This means that if any of those on the list decide to change their privacy settings on Facebook, Bowes and those who have the file will still be able to access information that was public when it was compiled. Bowes’ actions also mean people who had set their privacy settings so their names did not appear in Facebook’s search system can now be found if they were friends with anyone whose name was searchable. 'Scary privacy issue' On his website, www.skullsecurity.org, Bowes said the results of his code were "spectacular," giving him 171 million names of which were 100 million unique. "As I thought more about it and talked to other people, I realized that this is a scary privacy issue. I can find the name of pretty much every person on Facebook," he wrote. "Facebook helpfully informs you that "[a]nyone can opt out of appearing here by changing their Search privacy settings" — but that doesn't help much anymore considering I already have them all (and you will too, when you download the torrent). Suckers!" "Once I have the name and URL of a user, I can view, by default, their picture, friends, information about them, and some other details," Bowes added. "If the user has set their privacy higher, at the very least I can view their name and picture. So, if any searchable user has friends that are non-searchable, those friends just opted into being searched, like it or not! Oops :)" He said he discovered the top first name in the list was Michael, followed by John, David, Chris and Mike. The top surnames were Smith, Johnson, Jones, Williams and Brown. A privacy expert expressed concern at the implications of Bowes' actions. Simon Davies, of campaign group Privacy International, told the BBC that some Facebook users "did not understand the privacy settings and this is the result." "Facebook should have anticipated this attack and put measures in place to prevent it," he told the BBC. "It is inconceivable that a firm with hundreds of engineers couldn't have imagined a trawl of this magnitude and there's an argument to be heard that Facebook have acted with negligence." 'A little terrifying' Some users of Pirate Bay shared his concerns. "This is awesome and a little terrifying," lusifer69 wrote on the site. And another, Porkster, said: "I don't think this is a hack, but a collection from public domain info that people have shared. The importance of the info is structuring it and allowing someone to search or compute the data." However, jak322 said: "I've got to say, who cares. All the info here is already in the public domain, is not sensitive and as a developer I already have access to what could be deemed personal and private data through the Facebook API." In a statement emailed to msnbc.com, Facebook agreed, saying the information on the list was already available online. "People who use Facebook own their information and have the right to share only what they want, with whom they want, and when they want," it said. "Our responsibility is to respect their wishes. In this case, information that people have agreed to make public was collected by a single researcher. This information already exists in Google, Bing, other search engines, as well as on Facebook," the statement added. "No private data is available or has been compromised. Similar to a phone book, this is the information available to enable people to find each other, which is the reason people join Facebook. If someone does not want to be found, we also offer a number of controls to enable people not to appear in search on Facebook, in search engines, or share any information with applications."

3 Comments in Response to

Comment by Lola Flores
Entered on:

 Why is anyone surprised by this?  We entered the official age of spying, surveillance, snooping and snitching a while ago and the best is yet to come.  If y'all think this is bad, hold on to your britches cause you ain't seen nuttin' yet.

Comment by TL Winslow
Entered on:

BOYCOTT FACEBOOK NOW

Remember that Twilight Zone episode "To Serve Man" about the Kanamits? Mark Zuckerberg and Facebook are the real Kanamits.

Zuckerberg is a wannabe Bill Gates with designs on a monopoly in social networking, which would result in a new Dark Ages like Gates did with operating systems, and his whats-in-it-for-me practices trampling personal and privacy rights to position himself for riches no matter whom he hurts are despicable, and are indicative of much worse to come, which is one reason he must be stopped. But it's far worse than it appears on the surface, because all the signals are there that he wants to rule the world as the Antichrist, for instance, keeping the company private and wanting everybody to give up their privacy to him and him alone, like in Revelation 3:16 where it says he will put his mark on everybody's forehead and no one will be able to buy or sell without the Mark of the Beast, Mark Zuckerberg. Forget the old theories that Bill Gates was the Antichrist, this could be the dude. Gates just kept holding you back with horrible buggy software, but Zuckerberg can get you where you live by owning and using your private data at will. If you could go back to the early 1980s and buy Microsoft's competitors' operating systems, wouldn't you, to stop Gates? Well wake up and stop the Beast, or you will live to rue these happy days when you failed to act. The only way to stop Zuckerberg cold is to boycott Facebook by deleting your account after telling your social network to do ditto, in hopes that a saner, safer, more democratic alternative will arise that connects everybody with proper safeguards against megalomaniac people and groups.

Zuckers!

If you're still on Facebook you're a zucker! Facebook is like that Twilight Zone episode "To Serve Man": you will end up being consumed by it. It will end up like that Twilight Zone episode "Nightmare at 20,000 Feet": you will have to risk your life to get out of it, if you're smart enough to see the danger before it's too late, and be called crazy for doing it. If Revelation 3:16 has a meaning, Zuckerberg and Facebook are it, a horrible end to all personal privacy offered free like a Trojan Horse. Spread the message to those you love:

To learn more:

http://boycottfacebookblog.blogspot.com/ 

Comment by Ed Vallejo
Entered on:

Can't get to the skullsecurity website to connect to get the download.  The closest I can come is the cached version from yahoo - but that is before the link was posted, I'm sure. 

http://74.6.146.127/search/cache?ei=UTF-8&p=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.skullsecurity.org%2F&fr=b2ie7&u=skullsecurity.org/&w=%22skullsecurity+.org%22&d=HZvqF7ZfVKSl&icp=1&.intl=us&sig=dDvVWU8BzPH8rkDfEC.VhQ--

The link contained marked 'downloads' won't connect either.

Squashed pretty quickly, I'd say... 


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