Using basic code, internet security consultant, Ron Bowles, collected and published limited personal data on nearly 100 million Facebook users to the file-sharing website PirateBay.com. Shared as a downloadable file, it contains the URL of every searchable Facebook user’s profile, their name and unique ID. Unsurprisingly, the file has spread rapidly across the net.
Mr Bowes said he published the data to highlight privacy issues, according to a report on the BBC.
Responding to the news, Facebook said in a statement to BBC News, that the information in the list was already freely available online. “In this case, information that people have agreed to make public was collected by a single researcher and already exists in Google, Bing, other search engines, as well as on Facebook. “No private data is available or has been compromised,” the statement added.
However, Simon Davies, from the watchdog Privacy International, told BBC News that Facebook had been given ample warning that something like this would happen. “Facebook should have anticipated this attack and put measures in place to prevent it. 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, he added. “People did not understand the privacy settings and this is the result,” he said, adding “There are going to be a lot of angry and concerned people right now who will be wondering who has their data and what they should do.”
Davies’ protest refers to the groundswell of protest heard earlier this year as Facebook once again changed their privacy settings and made it even more difficult for users to ensure their privacy was respected.
Even after another overhaul aimed at simplifying privacy settings, Facebook’s default setting for privacy makes some user information publicly available, and users have to be aware of the issues and make a conscious choice to opt-out of these defaults.
Though Facebook continues to gain users – Facebook hit the 500 million user milestone earlier this month – the sites customer satisfaction rating is in the toilet – it’s even below the IRS.
In the ZDnet article Facebook bombs on customer satisfaction, says ACSI; On par with airlines Facebook was found to be in the bottom 5% of customer satisfaction among private sector companies. Speculating on why Facebook has such poor results, ACSI points to the sites privacy problems and frequent policy and site changes.