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The torrent could be viewed as Facebook's first digital "phonebook" equivalent, or a gross invasion of privacy, depending on how you view it.
Third party has no association with site, but made liberal use of its data policy

You could call security consultant Ron Bowes analytics masterpiece either Facebook's first digital "phonebook" or a gross violation of privacy.  Either way, Mr. Bowes appears to have quite legally used a cleverly crafted web crawler code to gather details on over 100 million users who either intentionally or unintentionally failed to obscure their profiles from search engines.

Ron Bowes, who heads Skull Security, posted the archive on the torrent site 
The Pirate Bay and it already has around 13,000 active users downloading or uploading it. 

The archive contains names, profile URL, and unique user ID of all 100M users, scraped from the popular social networking site, which currently claims a user base of over 500M users.

Facebook, in a statement to 
BBC News say the archive seems like no problem at all to it.  It states, "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... 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."

Simon Davies from the watchdog Privacy International, though, calls the data mining an "attack" and comments, "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... People did not understand the privacy settings and this is the result."

Facebook has rolled out multiple privacy settings changes in what seems a clear attempt to mine and make available users' data.  Many users of the popular site don't even seem to realize their information is being shared, or that the site's CEO claims that customers no longer care about privacy.

To manually opt out of being search-engine indexed go to Account > Privacy Settings > Applications, Games, and Websites (link near the bottom, in a box) > Public Search > (Uncheck box).  It's a good idea to keep an eye on the various pages in the privacy settings section if you're worried about such things, as they frequent receive changes, as mentioned.

A user lusifer69 who comments on the torrent page on 
The Pirate Bay writes, "This is awesome and a little terrifying."

If there's one thing that the incident indicates, its that there's an increasing legal gray area surrounding online data collection (for example, look at the recent Goatse Security harvest of 100,000+ iPad buyers' emails and ICC IDs.).  Also, users are by and large mostly unaware of their increasing visibility online.  That may spell trouble, should people put such harvested data to ill-use.



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RE: Facebook
By Alexstarfire on 7/29/2010 6:20:59 PM , Rating: 2
I think you missed the part where I mentioned that this doesn't really affect me. I make sure my privacy settings are set properly every time they go and add/remove/change them. The whole read the ToS is ridiculous though. I'm sure even you don't read the ToS for everything you sign up for. Yes, people should know what they are getting into before they do, but ToS aren't simple by any means and EVERYONE agrees with that, even the US courts. As a result, people pretty much never read them. As I said though, you can't get around human stupidity. If you default it to private then people won't figure out how to unlock it, as you said, and they will complain about that. If you default it to open then people complain about it being hard, or can't figure out how, to lock down and complain about privacy issues. Can't have it both ways and either way the consumer is complaining. People can't complain about privacy and then not protect themselves. That just makes no sense. These guys violated nothing so I don't know why anyone cares about them. That said, this should be more about FB than these people. Almost everyone complains about their stuff being too open on FB. Yes, it is rather public, but it's not like going into an amphitheater and just shouting out your information to everyone there. If everyone is complaining about it it seems to me that it should start off more locked down.

BTW, even at the most stringent settings your friends would still be able to see everything on your page. TBH, that's about how it should be. I have very little that I even allow friends of friends to view. I don't know how it is for others, but almost no one wants everyone to be able to see their information, so why have new accounts default just about everything so that everyone can it? That makes no sense. Also, either way you look at it users are going to have to be proactive. I don't know why you think it wouldn't be no matter what they do.


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