No FB internship for Indian-origin student who found flaw in app

  • HT Correspondent, Hindustan Times, New Delhi
  • Updated: Aug 14, 2015 01:00 IST

Indian-origin Harvard student, Aran Khanna was denied a chance to intern at Facebook after the company learned that one of his creations exposed a critical flaw in its Messenger service, reported.

In May, Khanna released Marauder’s Map, a browser extension for Google Chrome that used location data to show you exactly where your friends were. It was downloaded 85,000 times in three days, before Facebook asked him to disable it.

Facebook also disabled location sharing from desktops and subsequently updated Messenger for mobile, giving users the option to control their GPS data. Prior to that, the app had been sharing users’ locations by default since it launched in 2011.

Khanna was then informed by a Facebook employee that the company was rescinding his summer internship offer, as he had violated its user agreement when he scraped the site for location data.

He also received an email from Facebook’s head of global human resources and recruiting, who told him that his Medium post didn’t meet the high ethical standards expected of interns.

A Facebook spokesperson told, "This mapping tool scraped Facebook data in a way that violated our terms, and those terms exist to protect people’s privacy and safety. Despite being asked repeatedly to remove the code, the creator of this tool left it up. This is wrong and it’s inconsistent with how we think about serving our community."

Khanna accepted another internship with a tech start-up in Silicon Valley and later detailed the experience in a case study titled 'Facebook's Privacy Incident Response: A study of geolocation sharing on Facebook Messenger' in the Harvard Journal of Technology Science.

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