500 Million Facebook Profiles: Exactly What User Info Was Leaked?

July 29th, 2010 - 8:51 pm ICT by Angela Kaye Mason  

July 29 (THAINDIAN NEWS) The URL of every profile which has been made searchable on Facebook, along with the full names of the users,their Facebook ID, and other information has been collected and published by a hacker who claimed that he wished to highlight the privacy fears of Facebook users and been made available to the public in a down-loadable file, available to anyone.

Although the list does not expose the user’s entire Facebook profile, if a Facebook user has opted to leave their profile available in a public search, then it is on this list, which includes full names, any photos which the user has made public, and even a small amount of information from their friend’s profiles…even if the friend has their settings to private.

The list was gathered by a Canadian online security consultant by the name of Ron Bowes, who said that he used a simple piece of code to get the information from Facebook. According to a report from the ‘BBC’ he stated that he published the data, to everyone in the world who wants it, just to bring more attention to the privacy issues of the popular social networking site. He even published a blog to detail exactly how the list was gathered.

According to his claims, Ron Bowes only made the list because he was trying to gather information about the most commonly used names. He only decided to publish it after the fact, to show how easily a Facebook user’s information could be obtained. He also said that the list was valuable to hackers since they can use the most common first name and last name pairs to get more information on popular internet names.

The list is available through a link on the Facebook site. Only users who have made their profiles public can be found on the list, and searching through it is not always easy, since many of the names are not in alphabetical order.

But according to Facebook, there is no cause for alarm. It would seem that a hacker took the time to publish a list of profiles which were already available to the public anyway, by the Facebook users’ own preferences. They released a statement to that effect.

“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.”

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