Facebook has made some mistakes before, lots of times, but this is a big one. It's also safe to assume that it won't be the only mistake Facebook makes. Friday, the social network released around 6 million email addresses and telephone numbers of Facebook users due to a site glitch. How did this happen? Facebook isn't reporting any serious software breach, but the site did experience some hack-like problems.
The Facebook feature 'download your information' lets users download a snapshot of a timeline. When this feature was accessed by users last Friday, contact information for secondary friends was also released. What does this mean? The details for millions of users was freely given out to random people. Uh-oh, that's a big issue.
Did Facebook come under serious hacker attack? The company is denying that anything of this nature happened. Instead, Facebook reps are simply stating that the site experienced a glitch. As soon as the problem was noticed, the feature was disabled. How can you tell if your information was accidentally handed to some random people by Facebook?
Facebook has stated that all impacted users will receive a Facebook email notification. While there's nothing you can do about the issue now, at least Facebook will notify you (right?). So, if you happen to get an email from Facebook, don't delete it. You might want to know if your personal contact information was given out. This poses a bigger issues, though.
Privacy and Social Sites
Do social networks really need to keep information like addresses and phone numbers? Facebook users already have a dedicated Facebook email address, so it's hard to see why any other information is necessary. A backup email comes in handy when locked out of a site, but does the social network really need to hang onto your phone number or physical address?
Site breaches like this one aren't rare at all. Unfortunately, problems and hacks happen all the time. The result is often a number of social users that are quite vulnerable to a site's issues. What can Facebook do to fix the problem? Nothing, really. Users impacted may try to get something from the site, but this is highly unlikely.
Does It Really Matter?
I've been scanning the Internet for Facebook user comments this morning, and I've come across something interesting: most people impacted by this hack don't care. Or, rather, these people are admitting defeat.
Most people assume that having an online profile or personality means an imminent data breach, so you may as well just deal with the fact that your information is out there - but is this a healthy attitude?
Should we just sit back and say "oh well?" Even though your information can easily be found online, that doesn't make it acceptable. That's something to really think about. Maybe we shouldn't be so quick to give up on keeping our information private.
For now, though, Facebook is sticking to the fact that this was just a small program glitch, and not a serious hack. Is your information safe on Facebook? That remains to be seen.