This is what a Harvard student recently experienced, after he was denied access to an internship that he had been offered in the company, after it was revealed that he had exposed a major flaw of its Messenger service.
Aran Khanna is an Indian student who created Marauder’s Map, which is a Chrome Extension that enabled you to see what your friends’ location was. This application proved to be a huge success, as it was downloaded by 85,000 people in less than three days.
Marrauder’s Map was reportedly inspired from Harry Potter and it used users’ data available on Messenger to create a map that enabled users to see where their friends were and when they were chatting.
As the accuracy of the new extension was shocking – it could show the exact location of the person up to three feet, Facebook representatives were not too happy to see that a privacy flaw had been exposed. It seems that the company found out that the flaw existed three years ago, which didn’t make them look very good.
It was then when Aran Khanna was informed that his internship had been withdrawn because he had broken the user agreement by scraping the website to use location data. He was also told that his application did not match the ethical standards that the company expects of interns.
“This mapping tool scraped Facebook data in a way that violated our terms, and those terms exist to protect people’s privacy and safety. Despite being asked repeatedly to remove the code, the creator of this tool left it up. This is wrong and it’s inconsistent with how we think about serving our community,” said a representative of Facebook.
Now the company disabled location sharing and updated mobile Messenger. The users can now control their GPS data, which no longer shares their location by default.
Khanna found another internship at a big tech firm and responded to Facebook’s reaction by wroting an extensive case study on the matter.
We can’t help but see the obvious irony here, given the fact that Facebook was born in a dorm room and, as Khanna put it, was initially “an app hacked together” by a Harvard student.
Image Source: wired