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

  • kayleem-1-sha
    8/21/2015 - 10:16 a.m.

    Arans app demonstrated initiative, I believe he didn't mean to be a troublemaker in anyway I believe he had nothing but good intentions

  • savannahc-1-sha
    8/21/2015 - 10:16 a.m.

    I believe he was merely a troublemaker. I can't think of any purpose someone would have in making an app like that. I don't think there was a reason behind it that was positive whatsoever.

  • izzim-sha
    8/21/2015 - 10:17 a.m.

    I believe that while his intentions were to show a flaw in Facebook's messaging, he still could have caused harm and trouble to others with it.

  • ashleyc-sha
    8/21/2015 - 10:17 a.m.

    I feel he did the right thing when telling people about the flaw in the Messenger App. The people have a right to know when something like that is happening.

  • roset-sha
    8/21/2015 - 10:18 a.m.

    I think Aran Khanna's app demonstrated initiative because he thought people should know the location of the person they're messaging just to be safe and let people feel safe about who they are messaging.

  • ryanf-1-sha
    8/21/2015 - 10:19 a.m.

    I believe that Aran Khanna just wanted to let the people who we're using the messanger app where at risk of other people being able to pinpoint there exact location.

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

    I think that Khanna's app showed initiative because he wantedto show that he had the ability to create a app that was beneficial to people who used to social networking site

  • devonn-sha
    8/21/2015 - 10:35 a.m.

    Aran Khanna's app was a demonstration of initiative because all he wanted to do was make an app for people to safely talk and think about when they send messages.

  • michaelg-1-sha
    8/21/2015 - 02:23 p.m.

    I think Aran was trying to be an initiative. He was just trying to help the community and make an app. He was also a troublemaker for copying something from a certain piece of literature.

  • jareds-1-sha
    8/21/2015 - 02:24 p.m.

    I believe that Aran Khanna's app demonstrated initiative. The reason I feel this is because it seems like he was more or less looking out for people rather than trying to bring Facebook down.

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