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Facebook has been secretly compiling 'shadow profiles' of all users

Tuesday, July 02, 2013 by: J. D. Heyes
Tags: Facebook, shadow profiles, internet privacy

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(NaturalNews) If you're one of those who held out hope that social media sites like Facebook actually adhered to their own privacy policies, I'm sorry to say that you've been duped. Badly.

Reports that surfaced June 23 indicated that some sort of "bug" inadvertently revealed personal information on some six million Facebook users - a bug that had led to a year-long data leak beginning in 2012, according to this report from Reuters.

Per the newswire service:

Facebook blamed the data leaks, which began in 2012, on a technical glitch in its massive archive of contact information collected from its 1.1 billion users worldwide. As a result of the glitch, Facebook users who downloaded contact data for their list of friends obtained additional information that they were not supposed to have.

Only, it is much more sinister than that.

Making personal data available wholesale

According to tech news website ZDNet, the personal data "leaked by the bug is information that had not been given to Facebook by the users - it is data Facebook has been compiling on its users behind closed doors, without their consent."

According to the social media site, such gathering of information was all accidental, of course.

"At Facebook, we take people's privacy seriously, and we strive to protect people's information to the very best of our ability," the site's tech management team explained on the company's blog. "We implement many safeguards, hire the brightest engineers and train them to ensure we have only high-quality code behind the scenes of your Facebook experiences. We even have teams that focus exclusively on preventing and fixing privacy-related technical issues before they affect you."

However, "no company can ensure 100% prevention of bugs, and in rare cases we don't discover a problem until it has already affected a person's account," the team said, referencing a so-called "White Hat Program" designed to allow Facebook to "collaborate with external security researchers and help us ensure that we maintain the highest security standards for our users."

"Because of the bug, some of the information used to make friend recommendations and reduce the number of invitations we send was inadvertently stored in association with people's contact information as part of their account on Facebook," said the tech team. "As a result, if a person went to download an archive of their Facebook account through our Download Your Information (DYI) tool, they may have been provided with additional email addresses or telephone numbers for their contacts or people with whom they have some connection."

As ZDNet reported, Facebook users were definitely caught off-guard by the news that their data "was being collected, matched to them, and stored" by the social media site.

What's more, there is nothing about Facebook's explanation that is even believable, considering it is one of several tech companies - including Google, Microsoft, Yahoo! and Apple - that "turned over troves of user data to a large-scale electronic surveillance program run by U.S. intelligence," Reuters reported.

No love from Twitter

Despite loud protests from Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg and Google CEO Larry Page that they had nothing to do with the government's theft of their users' data, Britain's Daily Mail reported June 8 that both men secretly worked with U.S. government officials managing the NSA's PRISM data-mining program on a scheme to streamline access to personal data.

The New York Times reported the same thing a day earlier, on June 7:

When government officials came to Silicon Valley to demand easier ways for the world's largest Internet companies to turn over user data as part of a secret surveillance program, the companies bristled. In the end, though, many cooperated at least a bit. ...

In at least two cases, at
Google and Facebook, one of the plans discussed was to build separate, secure portals, like a digital version of the secure physical rooms that have long existed for classified information, in some instances on company servers. Through these online rooms, the government would request data, companies would deposit it and the government would retrieve it, people briefed on the discussions said.

One social site - Twitter - refused the government's demand.

Sources for this article include:

http://www.zdnet.com

http://www.reuters.com

http://www.dailymail.co.uk

http://www.nytimes.com
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