Harvard Student Loses Internship At Facebook After Exposing Their Own Privacy Leak

Aran Khanna is an undergrad at Harvard and had an exciting internship lined up with tech giants Facebook. Then he discovered and published a security flaw on Facebook’s popular Messenger mobile app. Rather than reward him for discovering a crucial bug in their programming, they decided to fire him.

Khanna discovered that Messenger was tracking the location of almost everyone that was using it, often without their knowledge. He created a Google Chrome extension, aptly named Marauders Map, that allowed you to track the location of your friends based on this data.

Rather than make an effort to correct this, or at least more clearly inform users exactly what Messenger was tracking, Facebook pulled away his internship, citing a breach of their user agreement. From Khanna’s recent paper in Havard’s Journal of Technology Science:

On the afternoon of the 29th, three days after my initial posts, Facebook phoned me to inform me that it was rescinding the offer of a summer internship, citing as a reason that the extension violated the Facebook user agreement by “scraping” the site. The head of global human resources and recruiting followed up with an email message stating that my blog post did not reflect the “high ethical standards” around user privacy expected of interns. According to the email, the privacy issue was not with Facebook Messenger, but rather with my blog post and code describing how Facebook collected and shared users’ geo-location data.

Remember folks, when it comes to Facebook, you are the product. You should probably just quit Facebook for good.

Devon Taylor (@DevonTaylor113)

Devon Taylor (@DevonTaylor113)

Devon has been writing about random things online since 2013. His favorite video game is Rocket League, his favorite TV show is The Sopranos, and he hated the last season of Game of Thrones. Follow him @DevonTaylor113.