Student loses internship after exposing privacy flaws in Facebook Messenger CEO Mark Zuckerberg talks about the Messenger app during the Facebook F8 Developer Conference. (AP Photo)
Student loses internship after exposing privacy flaws in Facebook Messenger
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A Harvard University student says he lost his internship at Facebook after he launched a browser application from his dorm room that exploited privacy flaws on the company's mobile messenger.
 
Aran Khanna's app - called Marauder's Map in tribute to the Harry Potter books - showed that users of Facebook Messenger could pinpoint the exact locations of people they were talking to.
 
He told Boston.com he created the app to show the consequences of unintentionally sharing data and thought he was doing a public service.
 
"I didn't write the program to be malicious," he said.
 
Khanna launched the app from his dorm room in May and said 85,000 people downloaded it.
 
Days later, Facebook asked Khanna to disable it. A week after that, Facebook released a Messenger app update addressing the flaw.
 
Facebook spokesman Matt Steinfeld said the company had been working on a Messenger update months before it became aware of Khanna's app.
 
"This isn't the sort of thing that can happen in a week," Steinfeld said.
 
Two hours before he was supposed to leave to start his internship, Khanna received a call from a Facebook employee telling him that the company was rescinding the offer because he had violated the Facebook user agreement when he scraped the site for data.
 
Khanna wrote about the experience in a case study published for the Harvard Journal of Technology Science. He spent the summer interning at a Silicon Valley startup and said the back-and-forth with Facebook ended up being a learning experience as well.
 
Facebook co-founder Mark Zuckerberg launched the social media site from a Harvard dorm room in 2004.

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CRITICAL THINKING QUESTION
Did Aran Khanna's app demonstrate initiative, or was he merely a troublemaker?
Write your answers in the comments section below


COMMENTS (7)
  • katimain17168@ccps.org-har
    8/31/2015 - 09:12 a.m.

    To Americans social media is a big part of our everyday lives. Its steadily growing, over the years more and more apps and websites have been made.They have changed the way we interact with each other. Some ways are positive while others are negative, it all depends on the way we use those apps/websites.

  • richard-hab
    9/03/2015 - 11:25 a.m.

    I feel like the intern did a bad thing by calling out Facebook and violating the user agreement. And he hurt himself because he lost his internship because of a stupid decision.

  • dalton-hab
    9/03/2015 - 01:13 p.m.

    I think that this is crazy. All that the guy did was state something completely obvious. I mean for real, who doesn't know that you can see the location of someone if they message you? It clearly says enable location services. He lost an internship for nothing!

  • briannec-ste
    9/17/2015 - 04:38 p.m.

    That kid is smart and probably didn't know he was doing anything wrong.

  • rhondrag1-pay
    9/24/2015 - 02:25 p.m.

    Ironically, two individuals uploaded an app at Harvard University from there dorm rooms, both pertaining to the same thing...Facebook. Harvard student Aran Khanna recently uploaded an app this year called " Marauder's Map," an app that addressed Facebook users of the social media's flaws. The Associated Press quoted "...showed that users of Facebook Messenger could pinpoint the exact locations of people they were talking to." Conclusively Aran Khanna's app demonstrates initiative,due to that fact that it alerted Facebook users that their supposedly private information was being exploited to the public. One example being that the user of "Facebook Messenger" could distinguish the exact location of the people they are talking to. Such destructive flaw could lead to stalking that possible individual, and in worst case abduction and rape of that individual from sexual predators prowling the internet because of release of such personal information. Flaws such as this should be exposed for safety purposes and personal protection; therefore, Aran Khanna's app demonstrates initiative in the rapidly growing social media epidemic.

  • rhondrag1-pay
    9/24/2015 - 02:38 p.m.

    There is an old saying "What you don't know cant hurt you." Facebook co-founder Mark Zuckerbug launched a now highly popular social media site form his Harvard dorm room in 2004 and for titled "Facebook." When many social media sites are released to the public, their flaws are often hidden off in a dark abyss never to been shown; therefore, it should be kept that way. Recently Aran Khanna Harvard University student and an almost Facebook intern violated his contract when he released his app "Marauder's Map," which exposed Facebook's flaws. Aran Khanna was merely a troublemaker seeking to supposedly help the public with his best interest. Social media will forever be flawed, nothing is perfect, and information will always find a way to be leaked no matter how hard you try to hide it.

  • theob-wil
    10/14/2015 - 10:00 a.m.

    That is weird but I mean he did start off with good intentions but I don't think he realized that there are stalkers in the world now-a-days.......

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