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: 1050L

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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 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 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 didn't write the program to be malicious," he said.
Khanna launched the app 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. Khanna was told that the company was rescinding 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 18 times
Did Aran Khanna's app demonstrate initiative, or was he merely a troublemaker?
Write your answers in the comments section below

  • dank-sha
    8/21/2015 - 10:06 a.m.

    Aran Khanna's app demonstrated initiative because he did not purposely create the app to be venomous, but just to show the dangers of sharing data without regard to safety.

  • jamesh-sha
    8/21/2015 - 10:08 a.m.

    Aran Khanna's app was useful in telling people the flaws of Facebook Messenger which also forced Facebook to come out and announce the flaw and they also fixed it.

  • jasonm-sha
    8/21/2015 - 10:09 a.m.

    I think instead of launching an app to the people he should have informed Facebook about the problem so they could fix it and he wouldn't have lost his internship

  • rachelw-sha
    8/21/2015 - 10:10 a.m.

    I believe that that Aran Khanna's app demonstrated initiative,not trouble. He was just trying to help people,not hurt the Facebook company.

  • day'shavonneh-sha
    8/21/2015 - 10:12 a.m.

    Aran Khanna's app demonstrates initiative because he wasn't trying to cause trouble he was simply testing something out and showing what would happen if the Facebook users did what they did.

  • natev-sha
    8/21/2015 - 10:12 a.m.

    I think it demonstrate initiative because in the end it just helped so the weakness in facebook's security and in the end it only helped the company work harder

  • nicka-sha
    8/21/2015 - 10:12 a.m.

    Aran Khanna's app showed all the flaws in the Facebook app, and therefore he was turned down because he violated some strict policies at Facebook.

  • kyler-1-sha
    8/21/2015 - 10:13 a.m.

    He was just making an app..he didn't have an intention of breaking the policy of demonstrated initiative because it was showing people what the consequences are when you share unitentional usage of sharing data..

  • alexiss-sha
    8/21/2015 - 10:16 a.m.

    I think his app demonstrated initiative. He was trying to show people what they were doing and by other people being able to see where they are be is trying to show them to be careful on who they are talking to.

  • kalas-sha
    8/21/2015 - 10:16 a.m.

    Aran khannas app demonstrates initiative. He was not a troublemaker, he does very well for himself. I think that creating an app is a great idea.

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