Major Companies Are Downloading the Data From Those 100 Million Public Facebook Profiles

Remember yesterday, when I said that you can all stop freaking out about those 100 million "hacked" Facebook profiles? Well, I wasn't wrong, but the number of major corporations who have been shown to have downloaded that data is big and scary enough to be slightly worrisome.

The data collected was public, of course—all of these corporations could have just found this data on Google. But after white hat hacker (the good kind, if your definition of "good" is malleable) Ron Bowles collected all of this public data and smushed it into one massive file, it may have sparked an interest that wouldn't have existed otherwise. Sure, these companies could have found this data elsewhere, at any time—but they likely didn't. Public information on a Facebook page is still public, and public means your friends as well as sort of scary corporations like Halliburton, Boeing, and Lockheed Martin have access to it.

A Gizmodo reader found that software called Peer Block (as well as others, but that's the one he used) can find the IP of any other user downloading that file. It also identifies the source of that IP, often an entity like a company, college, or other organization. So he looked through the list and picked out some of the ones that popped out at him.

Of course, we should note that just because an IP address associated with a company downloaded this file, it doesn't mean that that company requested the file be downloaded, or is even aware that it was. A single Halliburton employee might've read Fast Company and downloaded the torrent file at work to see what the hubbub is about, and bam, now Halliburton's on the list. Also, some of these organizations, like the BBC, Viacom, Time Warner, and Turner, have news branches, which would be a logical and forgiveable reason to download the file.

Without further ado, the list. The linked names are companies on our Most Innovative Companies list.

A.C. Nielsen; Agilent Technologies; Apple; AT&T, possibly Macrovision; Baker & McKenzie; BBC; Bertelsmann Media; Boeing; Church of Scientology; Cisco Systems; Cox Enterprises; Davis Polk & Wardwell; Deutsche Telekom; Disney; Duracell; Ernst & Young; Fujitsu; Goldman Sachs; Halliburton; HBO & Company; Hilton Hospitality; Hitachi; HP; IBM; Intel; Intuit; Levi Strauss & Co.; Lockheed-Martin Corp; Lucasfilm; Lucent Technologies; Matsushita Electric Industrial Co; Mcafee; MetLife; Mitsubishi; Motorola; Northrop Grumman; Novell; Nvidia; O'Melveny & Myers; Oracle Corp; Pepsi Cola; Procter and Gamble; Random House; Raytheon; Road Runner RRWE; Seagate; Sega; Siemens AG; Sony Corporation; Sprint; Sun Microsystems; Symantec; The Hague; Time Warner Telecom; Turner Broadcasting System; Ubisoft Entertainment; Unisys; United Nations; Univision; USPS; Viacom; Vodafone; Wells Fargo; Xerox PARC

[Image credit: Gizmodo]

Dan Nosowitz, the author of this post, can be followed on Twitter, corresponded with via email, and stalked in San Francisco (no link for that one—you'll have to do the legwork yourself).

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  • Scott Byorum

    OMG! Personal information on the Internet isn't secure?! Yawn. News flash. Everything on the Internet can be accessed, even the most secure. If you don't want your sexting and party photos or your sexual preference or whatever else you think is between you and your friends accessed by other people, do not post it on the Internet. There was a time where this wasn't much of an issue. It was called pre-1995.

  • Anthony Carton

    Are these individuals checking to see if they are on the list from their office, or research departments looking for some demographic data?

  • Hotrao

    Again is the proof that Facebook is not safe in any way and that, generally speaking, the net is not the safest place to keep datas.

    Unfortunately, the internet is a big and complex structure, while Facebook is a privately held company without the basic knowledge on how to safely treat datas (either personal or not).

    A company holding informations (sensitive or not) of about 1/12 of world population should not be authorized to do so without a clear proof of their capabilities in safeguarding datas.

    But this covers about the half of the problem, because the other part is people putting personal datas everywhere without having theknowledge of the uses and availability the datas.

    I think that while a serious action should be taken against Facebook (at least to make them think of the problems they are causing), on users consciousness is a battle lost before starting.