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Windows 7: Info on 100M Facebook Users Harvested and Posted in Torrent -- Legally

01 Aug 2010   #1

Microsoft Community Contributor Award Recipient

Windows 7 Ult x64 - SP1/ Windows 8 Pro x64
Info on 100M Facebook Users Harvested and Posted in Torrent -- Legally

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.

My System SpecsSystem Spec
01 Aug 2010   #2

Windows 7 Ultimate x64 RTM + SP1

Thank god i had already unticked that box. But i can't seem to untick the instant personalisation as it greyed out.

Anyone else having that problem. Its says its not available to me!!!

My System SpecsSystem Spec
01 Aug 2010   #3

Windows 7 Home Premium x64

I have kept my settings almost always as tight as possible, even my friends does not see who I have as friends they can only see mutual friends. Only thing you can without adding me as friend is my profile photo, name, and the fact that I am a male.
My System SpecsSystem Spec

01 Aug 2010   #4

Windows 7 Ultimate x64, Mint 9

My System SpecsSystem Spec
01 Aug 2010   #5


Here's the blog of the guy who did it SkullSecurity Blog Archive Return of the Facebook Snatchers.

I think proves a lot about how open Facebook can be as well.
My System SpecsSystem Spec

 Info on 100M Facebook Users Harvested and Posted in Torrent -- Legally

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