Facebook has axed a Harvard student called Aran Khanna, who was about to start an internship after he publicly exposed a privacy flaw within Facebook Messenger. Khanna discovered each message contained data pinpointing the sender’s location and created an app allow users to track their friends’ whereabouts. Instead of keeping this private, he decided to upload the “Marauders Map” as a public plugin on the Google Store.
According to Technology Science, Facebook became irate and demanded the tool to be removed instantly. Supposedly, the company felt embarrassed and believed publishing any flaw in public wasn’t in-line with their code of conduct. Despite this clear warning, Khanna was told his internship offer had been withdrawn only hours before he was due to fly to Facebook’s Headquarters. While this does seem a little harsh, Facebook are adamant that Khanna refused to remove the software. Matt Steinfeld, Policy Communications and Public Affairs at Facebook told Boston.com:
“Despite being asked repeatedly to remove the code, the creator of this tool left it up.”
It’s difficult to judge who to believe, but one piece of evidence collaborates Facebook’s story. Currently, you can still download the App via the Google Chrome Store and add it as an extension. However, judging by the latest reviews, it seems Facebook has fixed the location loophole. Many companies offer financial incentives to find privacy coding errors meaning this was an unfair, albeit understandable dismissal. The moral of the story is, don’t show up the company you want to work for in public.
Thank you Boston.com for providing us with this information.