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Personal Details of 100 Million Facebook Users Published by ‘Harvester’

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Facebook’s privacy battles never seem to go away. Today, the personal details of 100 million users of Facebook have been collected and made available for download by a ‘data harvester’ on the Pirate Bay. The piece of code, designed by Ron Bowes – a security consultant, scans Facebook user profiles, and collects data that are not hidden by the user’s privacy settings. At the time of writing this post, the file, which is about 2.7GB in size, has already been downloaded by thousands of Internet users on the world’s biggest file-sharing Website.

facebook profile directory

Screenshot of the Torrent on the Pirate Bay

Mr Bowes says the reason why the data was made available was to highlight privacy issues but in a statement to BBC News, Facebook said that ” 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.”

However, the fact that the information in the list was already freely available online is not what matters but rather that a single researcher was able to collect, collate and structure that much data, from an organisation as huge as Facebook, into a single program that can be accessed in one place, at any given time. Users have a right to expect more from the Website in terms of anticipating this form of attack and preventing it.

Talking Point

Are you worried that a hacker was able to publish or expose the profile data of so many Facebook users or is this matter just “a storm in a teacup” that is being blown way out of proportion?

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