Facebook Inc. (NASDAQ:FB) has been working very hard to tout its user safety and security measures, just as hard as it’s working to protect privacy while encouraging collaboration and communication among 1 billion users. But with all that talk coming from the company, there has been some mounting evidence that the company has had and continues to have trouble keeping personal data safe and confidential. But is there a price?
How does $5 sound?
A blogger from the Czech Republic, with no nefarious purposes but just to bring to the attention of Facebook Inc. (NASDAQ:FB) officials, recently bout a database of 1 million e-mail addresses that belonged to Facebook Inc. (NASDAQ:FB) users for $5 through an online service portal. The blogger couldn’t tell from the database how recent the information was – which included names, e-mail addresses and profile IDs – but he did note that the database contained active e-mail addresses of several people he knew. The blogger posted that he had acquired this data, possibly from a third-party developer, and alerted Facebook Inc. (NASDAQ:FB) officials about the privacy breach.
Facebook Inc. (NASDAQ:FB) says it is conducting a legal investigation into the breach but won’t say much more other than a statement, in which the company called this action “scraping.” From the statement, “In this case, it appears someone has attempted to scrape information from our site and combine the information with data publicly available elsewhere on the web. We have dedicated security engineers and teams that look into, and take aggressive action on reports just like these. In addition to the engineering teams that build tools to block scraping we also have a dedicated enforcement team that seeks to identify those responsible for breaking our Terms and works with our Legal team to ensure appropriate consequences follow. We continue to investigate this specific individual.”
Facebook Inc. (NASDAQ:FB) had a conversation with the blogger – which it asked to be private, though the blogger recorded – and encouraged him to send the information back to Facebook and destroy the data, which the blogger did. However, the blogger thought it was curious that Facebook Inc. (NASDAQ:FB) didn’t want the blogger to “disclose any part of this conversation,” he wrote. “It is a secret that we are even having this conversation,” the blogger said the Facebook Inc. (NASDAQ:FB) said.
What is there to hide? Might Facebook Inc. (NASDAQ:FB) know more about this than it was otherwise letting on? What might this mean for the other millions of users that weren’t on this database? Might they be on the next data-for-hire? How will investors in Facebook Inc. (NASDAQ:FB) stock, like billionaire fund manager George Soros of Soros Fund Management, respond to the seemly very public existence of private information?
The bottom line of this activity, the blogger wrote, was to try to convince Facebook Inc. (NASDAQ:FB) to get rid of all personal data that is affiliated with users who pass away are no longer have active accounts with the site.