Personal information on 100 million Facebook users has been scraped from the social media site and is being shared and download as a single file via what is called a Bittorrent. BitTorrent is a peer-to-peer (P2P) file sharing protocol used for distributing large amounts of data.
Facebook takes on the issue is the data that was scraped wasn’t private at all. To a degree, I agree. The data is being shared through the site, it’s already public.
Here’s how it went down: a good guy hacker developed a program that went through all 500 million profiles and was able to skim (scrape) all the data from Facebook that wasn’t locked down via the users Facebook privacy settings. Basically if you didn’t lock your privacy settings down, it’s now available in this file. If you lock down your settings today, it’s still in this file.
What’s the point? Hackers like to tinker, and some like to make a point. It seems the hacker here wanted to make a point that your data on social media is up for grabs whether you like it or not.
What’s the risk? It seems the format and way the data was compiled is now searchable in a way that can benefit advertisers and marketers. Can it be used by thieves? It’s too early to tell. In this situation my first concern would be data that you may not want to be around in 20 years that may damage your reputation down the road.
This incident should highlight the lack of privacy and lack of security that exists in social media. Recognize that whatever information you share online, can ultimately end up in anyone’s hands, whether you like it or not.
Lock down your privacy settings and be very conscious of what you share. It may bite you someday.