Student loses internship after exposing privacy flaws in Facebook Messenger
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
Lexile: 940L

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A Harvard University student says he lost his internship at Facebook. It happened after he launched a browser application from his dorm room. The app showed privacy flaws on the company's mobile messenger.
Aran Khanna's app is called Marauder's Map. That is in tribute to the Harry Potter books. The app showed that users of Facebook Messenger could pinpoint the exact locations of people they were talking to.
He told he created the app. He said he wanted to show the consequences of unintentionally sharing data and thought he was doing a public service.
"I did not write the program to be malicious," he said.
Khanna launched the app in May. He 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 is not 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. Khanna was told that the company was pulling the offer. He was told it was because he had violated the Facebook user agreement when he scraped the site for data.
Khanna wrote about the experience in a case study 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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Assigned 82 times
Did Aran Khanna's app demonstrate initiative, or was he merely a troublemaker?
Write your answers in the comments section below

  • hudsonh-ver
    8/19/2015 - 01:33 p.m.

    I don not thin that that was a smart idea to release that app.

  • elizabethb-
    8/20/2015 - 12:51 p.m.

    I think Aran Khanna had very poor initiative. He wasted his talent. I believe that if you don't use your talents you are going to lose them. He ruined his future reputation and he won't get a future job in the technology world. If he is smart enough to create an app based on the Harry Potter series, then he is smart enough to work at Facebook. Him creating this app shows laziness and poor work ethic.

  • alexm-
    8/20/2015 - 07:47 p.m.

    Aran Khanna's was merely a troublemaker because he knew what the app was going to do and he still put it out there for people so they could go on facebook messenger and the company was pulling the offer and he found out why and they told him it was because he violated the facebook agreement when he scraped the site for data which made him lose his internship after exposing it.

  • zaneo-
    8/21/2015 - 08:01 a.m.

    He had a reason why he made the app.

  • ginaj-
    8/21/2015 - 08:02 a.m.

    I think that Aran Khanna didn't mean for this invention of the app to put people in danger. He wasn't thinking it through completely I think he was just thinking about the money. The app was unsafe because you could see someone's location out of your friends list and obviously you don't want people to see your every location. His idea wasn't very smart and caused him to lose his internship.

  • michaell-
    8/21/2015 - 08:04 a.m.

    I think Khanna's app demonstrated initiative because he was trying to show privacy flaws in the messenger app he did not intend to cause any trouble.

  • daniele-
    8/21/2015 - 08:04 a.m.

    I think he just made that's app to show Facebook what he can do and he didn't think it would cost him his job, I think he was trying to take initiative and prove Facebook that he was the right guy for the job.

  • kayleigho-
    8/21/2015 - 08:04 a.m.

    I think Aran's app demonstrated initiative but showing the wrong intentions. He was causing trouble with the app that he launched because it could have led to something bad happening since the app allowed people to locate someone's exact location. It was a good idea but actually launching the app was not, anything could happen.

  • chadb-
    8/21/2015 - 08:06 a.m.

    Aran made a Facebook app where you can see your friends location and the was invasion of people's privacy. I think he was showing initiative for his idea of his app.

  • anthonyi-
    8/21/2015 - 08:07 a.m.

    I believe that his app did not demonstrate inititave because being able to pin point someone's location is a privacy thing and is wrong, I also believe that Facebook did the rest that thing from pulling his internship

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