The BBC reports that details of 100m Facebook users has been collected and published online via BitTorrent.
The BBC story takes a little less freaked line than The Telegraph, but it’s not as if this was a security breach that caused private data to be exposed as Facebook says this was all public in any case.
Ron Bowes of SkullSecurity reportedly wrote a program to download millions of the public profiles of Facebook users in order to assist the development of the Nmap Security Scanner and the Ncrack tool by creating a database of usernames typically used by people.
Mr Bowes said his original plan was to “collect a good list of human names that could be used for these tests”.
“Once I had the data, though, I realised that it could be of interest to the community if I released it, so I did,” he added.
Mr Bowes confirmed that all the data he harvested was already publicly available but acknowledged that if anyone now changed their privacy settings, their information would still be accessible.
“If 100,000 Facebook users decide that they no longer want to be in Facebook’s directory, I would still have their name and URL but it would no longer, technically, be public,” he said.
It has been played down by people who have likened it to creating a telephone directory. However the question of whether users explicitly consented to be in such a directory is not easily answered as Facebook’s privacy settings seem to be too complicated for a sizable percentage of their users to understand.