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FBHive Shows Facebook to be an Open Book!

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David Silversmith
David Silversmith

FBHive, a new site covering news and opinions about Facebook launched with a blockbuster story with clear proof that they had discovered a security loophole allows anyone to view private Facebook profile information even if that information has been shielded off by privacy settings.

FBHive is being run by ‘two twenty-something guys’ who are self-proclaimed ‘avid fans’ of the Facebook social networking service.  Initially, this looked like a publicity stunt to draw attraction to their new blog.  However, it quickly became apparent that while this was an attempt to get publicity - it was no stunt.

First the FBHive web page displayed the personal information of Facebook’s chief. Then the site replaced the information with “Removed at Facebook’s Request.” Then they did the same with the personal data of Digg co-founder Kevin Rose and Boing Boing co-editor Cory Doctorow. They also contacted several tech reporters and provided the writers with their birth date, name of their home town and other "private" information.

The FBHive team gave the Facebook team 24 hours to finally respond to their reach-out and stated that they would post details on how exactly one can obtain basic private profile information from protected accounts if Facebook failed to respond.  Facebook did reply and stated "We have identified this bug and closed the loophole. We don’t have any evidence to suggest that it was ever exploited for malicious purposes."  Translated into non PR speak that means that they have no idea how often this hack was used.

Once the issue was fixed, FBHive provided evidence of how they managed to obtain this data - even providing a video to show this hack in action.

Once again, this is an example that while Bebo, Facebook, MySpace and other social media sites are fun - if you are counting on these sites protecting your privacy you are asking to be disappointed.  These sites are all making rapid changes and enhancements to their sites - one small coding decision can lead to public access to your "private" data.

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