Private Facebook Data Becomes Big Business

Private Facebook Data Becomes Big Business
Private Facebook Data Becomes Big Business 

By Tony Bradley
PC World
July 30, 2010

When a security researcher made personal profile information of more 
than 170 million Facebook users available to the public on BitTorrent--a 
peer-to-peer file sharing site--many questioned why he did not attempt 
to sell that information to an interested party. Names and profile data 
on that many Facebook users is a potential gold mine of valuable 
marketing data.

Apparently, some major corporations agree, and many have jumped on 
BitTorrent to download the Facebook data. According to a blog post from 
Gizmodo, a reader known as Clint "discovered that all you had to do is 
use something like Peer Block, which grabs the IPs of the other users 
also downloading the torrent and identifies which company or university 
or organization they belong to."

The list of companies that appear to have downloaded the Facebook data 
includes 65 organizations--many of which are household names like Cisco, 
Intel, Apple, and Symantec. Microsoft was conspicuously absent from the 
list of corporations that have tapped the treasure trove of Facebook 
data. The blog post does point out, though, that "Just because a company 
is on the list, doesn't mean that it's a sanctioned download by the 
company itself to grab the user information for some purpose. It could 
easily just be some dude at the company who wanted to download the 
torrent himself to check it out."

The scenario reminds me of when I was an IT admin for a way back 
when. The philosophy of our CEO was that data is gold--pure and simple. 
Basically, all data is good data, and even if there isn't an obvious use 
for it today, it should be archived because it might prove useful 


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