TECH

Facebook Withdraws Internship From Student Who Built Chrome Extension Highlighting Messenger App's Privacy Flaw

17/08/2015 16:39 BST | Updated 17/08/2015 16:59 BST

A student who was offered an internship with Facebook claims the opportunity has been withdrawn because of a Chrome extension he built highlighting a fundamental privacy flaw with the Messenger app.

In May, Havard student Aran Khanna released Marauder’s Map, an application that plots the whereabouts of those using the Messenger app.

messenger app

What the extension showed were a series of privacy flaws that Facebook were reportedly already aware of and working on.

Within three days of the extension's existence, the social media giant asked Khanna to disable it, which he did.

However, two hours before he was scheduled to leave for the internship, Facebook called him up to withdraw their internship offer, Boston.com reports.

What bothered, Zuckerberg's kingdom is Khanna's detailed publication of his findings.

In a journal published by Harvard, Technology Science, he writes:

My tool has been downloaded over 85,000 times since its release, and more than 170 global news publications linked to my post. During the first three days after release of the geo-location mapping tool, Facebook also responded by demanding that I take down the tool, which I did. Nine days after the release, Facebook made sharing geo-location data an opt-in feature, allowing users to select to share personal geolocations in Facebook Messenger, although all historical geo-location data is still archived and shared. The results of the study suggest sufficient public attention may be necessary for redress of reported privacy concerns.

However, Facebook maintains that the wannabe-intern was let go for misusing user data and not for highlighting Messenger app's privacy problems.

“We don’t dismiss employees for exposing privacy flaws, but we do take it seriously when someone misuses user data and puts people at risk,” Facebook said in a statement.

Writing for the Huffington Post, Khanna explained why he wrote the extension:

"I decided to write this extension, because we are constantly being told how we are losing privacy with the increasing digitization of our lives, however the consequences never seem tangible. With this code you can see for yourself the potentially invasive usage of the information you share, and decide for yourself if this is something you should worry about."