A Facebook Intern Exposed a Major Privacy Problem — So They Fired Him

Image Credit: GETTY IMAGES


When Aran Khanna released the Marauder’s Map, a browser extension that lets you track your friends using their Facebook Message location info, he thought Facebook would be impressed. He was, after all, a few weeks away from starting an internship there.

They did notice. Within a couple of weeks, the Marauder’s Map generated enough attention that Facebookreleased an update to Messenger that ramped up location-based privacy.

Then Facebook fired Khanna.

Khanna’s internship was supposed to begin on a Monday. The Friday before, Facebook’s vice president of engineering called to tell him that he had violated their terms for employment and couldn’t begin his internship.

Khanna never expected that the backlash would be so drastic. After all, the information he exposed was public and had been available for three years. People had been complaining that Facebook messages were storing too much information about our locations, and Khanna’s app highlighted the vulnerability of the information.

He took the app down when Facebook asked him to, effectively euthanizing it by revoking the API key. But the code was still available on Github, so others could still find it.

“I just wanted to point out something that was privacy-invasive on a product that was used a lot,” Khanna told Mic.

Outside hackers help companies this way all of the time — and they usually get piles of cash for it. They’re called “white hat” hackers (as opposed to “black hats,” who hack maliciously) and their job is to think like the black hats so that they can patch up holes before anyone gets through.

“It’s extremely valuable to have a group of people from all over the world, with a variety of skill sets and creativity, who have a different perspective from the internal team,” Sam Houston, community coordinator for a bug bounty site called Bugcrowd, told Mic. “They find security vulnerabilities that make products more secure.”

Most major tech companies have open bug bounty programs that pay out various rates for white hats who come to them with new information about a security vulnerability. Facebook itself has paid out rewards as high as $33,500 to its bug bounty hunters.

But white hats also have their own ethics while helping the companies they target. And putting vulnerabilities on blast is a blatant transgression.

“Ordinarily, Facebook would be happy about getting information like this,” Bugcrowd CEO Casey Ellis told Mic. “But what Facebook is consistent of is that when they set rules and you violate them, they stick by those rules. White hats are important and critical, but you have to set ground rules and expectations so you don’t end up with anarchy.”

But Khanna didn’t even really “hack” Facebook. He may have brought a privacy issue to light, but technically, the tool is built on publicly available information. That’s the reason he didn’t think he needed bring the project to Facebook’s attention in the first place.

“The information is already public,” Khanna, who has been working at a small deep-learning startup since he lost his internship, pointed out to Mic. “You could collect the same information on paper and pencil and it would have just taken longer.”

Does Khanna regret releasing the Marauder’s Map? He can’t say. He’s disappointed that the company he admired and wanted to work for didn’t hold to the “hacker” values it claims to prize so highly.

“At Facebook they talk about hacker culture — move fast and break things,” Khanna told Mic. “Those were the things that galvanized me to apply to Facebook as a company. I thought it would make me accepted.”

Jack Smith IV

Right-Wing Blog’s Plan To Expose Sanders Fans As Economic Illiterates Hilariously Fails


“Priceless Meme Shows Exactly What Kind Of People Support Socialist Bernie Sanders,” is the headline on a Young Conservativespiece blasting…people who support Bernie Sanders. The meme is below:


Gage Skidmore. Licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0 via Flickr

This meme is also the profile pic on a Facebook page called “Economic Illiterates for Bernie Sanders.

Young Conservatives’ entire post is about how the people who support Sanders don’t understand economics, all the while showcasing just how little they themselves don’t understand economics (or how progressive taxes work, for that matter). Bernie Sanders believes in wealth redistribution to a degree. He understands that the extreme income inequality we have here is not sustainable, because rich people cannot sustain a consumer economy on their own. There just aren’t enough of them.

Sanders isn’t alone in this; billionaire Nick Hanauer knows that he can’t buy enough suits, cars, electronics, appliances, and more, to sustain any one of the businesses that manufacture and sell these things. He’s one man who might buy three suits in a year. Not 3,000, despite the fact that his income is roughly 3,000 times higher than the average American. He’s not going to buy 3,000 cars every year, either, and neither is any other billionaire.

Young Conservatives merely provides a link to Sanders’ “hilarious” stance on the minimum wage. It’s safe to say that this publication buys into the myth that raising the minimum wage will destroy jobs. In one article, they point to a single story from the American Enterprise Institute, which is a right-leaning, pro-business think tank based in Washington, D.C. Of course the AEI is going to put out stories that “show” raising the minimum wage is a bad idea; business wants to treat workers like slaves and liabilities, not like the assets they are. (Without workers, you have no business. The bigger your business, the more dependent you are on your workers.)

The Department of Labor has its own page busting these minimum wage myths, including metastudies showing that there’s no discernible effect on employment when the minimum wage goes up. Of course, pro-trickle down conservatives call that a bunch of hooey; they still think that the only way to create jobs and wealth is to let rich people have all the money, and pay working people peanuts. Hey, they’re still working and making a little money, right? Something is always better than nothing.

Studies, statistics, sources, and micro- and macro-economics aside, there are two questions that conservatives just never seem to be able to answer. In 30 years, when has trickle-down ever worked? When will it start working?

It hasn’t, and it won’t. If it had, we’d be in absolute paradise by now, not watching working families struggle while the super-rich keep getting richer.

We can’t expect Young Conservatives to understand that, though. They’re so sure the economy would work if we’d just stop regulating it at all, stop taxing the rich entirely, and all workers would just work a little harder for a few more peanuts. If all that happens, we’ll all be fine. The real problem is socialist governments refusing to let business run amok. Typical right-wing economics, of which we’ve seen 30 years of failure.

Texas School Board Member Sorry For KKK ‘White Christmas’ Facebook Post



TPM LiveWire

Chris Harris, a board member for the Hooks Independent School District in the town of Hooks, posted two apologies to Facebook after posting the offensive image. After removing the offending post, he maintained in both apologies that he was not “a racist.”

Harris also explained that the original post was “meant as a joke” that he realized “offended people” and that “got taken way out of context.”

His apologies are below:

District Superintendent Ronnie Thompson told the TV station that the other school board members would decide whether to fire Harris.

“They govern me. That is who I answer to,” Thompson said. “They govern each other. It is in their hands.”

The school board is set to meet on Dec. 15, according to KTAL.

h/t Raw Story

Missouri Official Meant ‘No Ill Intent’ When She Called For Military Coup



TPM LiveWire

“I have a question for all my friends who have served or are currently serving in our military … having not put on a uniform nor taken any type military oath, there has to be something that I am just not aware of. But I cannot and do not understand why no action is being taken against our domestic enemy. I know he is supposedly the commander in chief, but the constitution gives you the authority,” she wrote in the post. “What am I missing? Thank you for your bravery and may God keep you safe.”

Dunnegan, who is up for re-election in November, said that her question was taken out of context, according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

“Something innocent and simple got twisted into a disaster because it’s an election,” she said. “I meant no ill intent toward the president. I meant no ill intent toward anybody.”

Her Facebook account is private, but Dunnegan said she has not deleted the post and doesn’t seem worried how it might impact her re-election bid.

“I think it could hurt it as much as it could help it,” she said.

Missouri Councilman Blames His Racist Facebook Posts On The Fact He Is Republican


MO Councilman Peter Tinsley

The Everlasting GOP Stoppers

A Missouri city councilman is apologizing for what some are calling racist messages that he posted about President Obama on his Facebook page.

Councilman Peter Tinsley’s offensive posts were brought up before the Poplar Bluff City Council at their meeting on Monday night.

KFVS reports that Tinsley said the photos were posted last year and it was never his intention to offend anyone.

However, some of the individual present at the meeting considered the posts to be racist, such as Reverend Tommy Robison:

“To come from a city council [member], a city government official, this is highly unthought of, even in Poplar Bluff Missouri. I’m highly upset over this, along with the residents of our ward.”

Tinsley responded “I apologize from the bottom of my heart ,” and offered the following explanation:

“At one time, I was a very active republican, very opposed to Obama.”

This didn’t sit well with leaders of his own party, such as Eddy Justice, the chairman for the Butler Country Republicans who pointed out that Tinsley’s posts and remarks were not representative of the party.

“It even got more intense when he proceeded to blame the republican party for him thinking like that. Republicans believe everyone should be judged on their qualifications, on their ability.”

Here are two of the offending posts cited by KFVS:




On Monday, Tinsley apologized on his Facebook page, and on Tuesday, once again, stated his regrets:

“I want people to know that I am very remorseful for it. It was inappropriate. I believe I got caught up in an emotional moment of sharing jokes. It seemed funny at the time but today it’s very serious and it’s not funny at all.”

As KFVS notes, Tinsley said that apology not only goes out to the people of Poplar Bluff, but also to members of the Republican Party.

“Anything that I have said, that I referred to the activity because I was a Republican, that is not true. It’s not an excuse ,” Tinsley said.

You can watch a clip on KFVS

GOP Compares People On EBT To Animals- Majority Are Women, Children, And Veterans

annette bosworth

A GOP candidate for the open Senate seat in South Dakota likened foodstamp recipients to animals. Perhaps it’s time to give her a bit of education about the program.

Yet another politically motivated GOP concept proven wrong…

Addicting Info

Dr. Annette Bosworth is a first time Republican candidate for South Dakota’s open Senate seat. She styles herself after Tea Party wackadoodles Ted Cruz and Steve King. She even has a “Ten Point Pledge” on get campaign website that illustrates exactly why she shouldn’t be elected. If her pledge wasn’t enough to turn off  (we hope) voters, a recent Facebook posting where she compares EBT recipients to animals might.

Dr. Bosworth reposted the following anti-foodstamp meme on her Facebook page on Monday.


Yep, that’s right, she compares foodstamp recipients to animals. Obviously the good doctor doesn’t know anything about the foodstamp program. Maybe she needs to read my colleague Wes Williams article, What The Right Doesn’t Want You To Know About Welfare: 9 Myths Exploded.

We need to educate Dr. Bozo about the following facts:

No, clearly she doesn’t know anything about foodstamps. She’s just trying to perpetuate myths about the poor to get votes from the ignorant base of the Republican party.

900,000 Veterans are hardly asking for a handout. They went to war for this country. Wars that many of us don’t even support. If they need help upon return, the absolutely deserve whatever we can give them.

For a person who claims to be pro- life, Dr. Bozo has a funny way of showing it. These children who receive foodstamps deserve food to live don’t they? God wouldn’t want these children to starve. It’s not very Christian to compare them to animals.

The working poor are clearly not asking for a handout since they are working. Some of them are working two or three jobs and are still unable to support their families and feed their kids.

Someone should teach Dr. Bosworth the value of research. Being a doctor you’d think she would have learned a few things. She took an oath to help people, to care for people. Yet, she turns around and compares these same people to animals.

She may be more like her heroes, Beavis Cruz and Butthead King, than she may realize.

10 things you need to know today: March 26, 2014

Flowers are left near a demolished home where a woman's body was found. 

Flowers are left near a demolished home where a woman’s body was found. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)

The Week

Washington’s mudslide death toll continues to rise, some Americans get an ObamaCare deadline extension, and more

1. Likely death toll from mudslide rises to 24
Search crews recovered two more bodies Tuesday under the Washington state mudslide and believed they had located another eight, pushing the likely death toll to 24. Authorities expect it to rise further. As crews continued looking for signs of life on Wednesday, four days after the disaster, as many as 176 people remained missing. “We haven’t lost hope that there’s a possibility that we can find somebody alive in some pocket area,” said a local fire chief. [Fox News]

2. The Obama administration extends the health care enrollment deadline
With ObamaCare’s open enrollment ending in less than a week, the Obama administration is scheduled to announce Wednesday that it will give more time to people who have started the application process on HealthCare.gov but fail to finish by Monday. Those who say they were delayed by technical problems will have until mid-April to ask for an extension. The administration had long said the March 31 deadline was firm. [The Washington Post]

3. Russia takes Ukraine’s last warship in Crimea
Russian forces seized the last Ukrainian naval ship in Crimea on Tuesday, completing Moscow’s takeover of military control in the breakaway Ukrainian region. The assault followed several days of similar, mostly bloodless moves against Ukrainian bases as Russia pushed forward with the annexation of Crimea after voters there passed a referendum to secede from Ukraine. [Reuters]

4. Facebook buys virtual reality startup Oculus
Facebook is buying a small virtual-reality startup, Oculus VR, for more than $2 billion, its second major acquisition in just over a month. Skeptics said Oculus’ advanced technology was better suited to immersive games than social media. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said virtual reality and social media were a natural mix. “Imagine sharing not just moments with your friends online, but entire experiences,” he said. [San Jose Mercury News]

5. FBI clears agent who shot and killed Tsarnaev’s friend
An investigation has cleared the FBI agent who shot and killed Ibragim Todashev, a friend of the late Boston Marathon bombing suspect Tamerlan Tsarnaev, top Federal Bureau of Investigation officials said Tuesday. Hours earlier, prosecutors in Florida, where the agent and another investigator interviewed Todashev in his apartment about a triple homicide, said they would not file charges. The agent told state officials he fired after Todashev attacked him. [Los Angeles Times]

6. Maduro accuses three generals of plotting to overthrow him
Venezuelan security forces arrested three air force generals and accused them of plotting a coup against the government, President Nicolas Maduro said Tuesday. “This captured group has direct ties with sectors of the opposition,” Maduro said. Opposition leaders said Maduro causing the violence by rounding up his political rivals. “Nicolas threw gas on the fire,” opposition leader Henrique Capriles Radonski tweeted. [CNN]

7. Investigators blame the fatal Paul Walker crash on speed
“Unsafe speed” caused the Nov. 30 crash that killed Fast & Furious actor Paul Walker, according to a report released Tuesday by the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department. The high-performance Porsche Walker was riding in was going as fast as 93 miles per hour in a 45 mph zone when the driver — Walker’s friend, Roger Rodas — lost control and crashed. Rodas was also killed when the car burst into flames. A pair of nine-year-old tires might have contributed to the accident, too. [Los Angeles Times]

8. Pitbull that bit 4-year-old won’t be killed
A pitbull that attacked a 4-year-old boy last month won’t be put to death, a judge ruled Tuesday. The dog will, however, be defanged, neutered, and have a microchip implanted under its skin. The dog, named Mickey, was restrained in the yard of the boy’s babysitter in February when the child walked within the radius of its 18-foot chain. Supporters of the animal wore “Save Mickey” T-shirts to the court hearing. [The Associated Press]

9. Secret Service agents sent home from the Netherlands
The Secret Service sent three agents home ahead of President Obama’s arrival in the Netherlands this week. One was found inebriated in his hotel; the other two were accused of complicity. A Secret Service spokesman said the behavior never compromised Obama’s security. It did, however, add to the embarrassment of an elite agency struggling to repair its image after a prostitution scandal. [The Associated Press]

10. Paltrow and Martin separate
Actress Gwyneth Paltrow announced on her GOOP website Tuesday that she and Coldplay’s Chris Martin were splitting up after 11 years of marriage. In a blog post titled “Conscious Uncoupling,” the couple wrote that they had been trying for more than a year to “see what might have been possible between us,” and had decided to “remain separate.” Paltrow and Martin have two children, Apple and Moses. [TV Guide]

What Facebook can tell us about conservatives

The late Andrew Breibart, founder of Breitbart.com — one of the most trafficked conservative news websites.

The Fix – Chris Cillizza

Here’s what Pew did. They used a sample of 26 news sites to conduct their research on peoples’ digital browsing habits. They used a combination of the most trafficked news sites and the ones that get the most traffic via Facebook. Not surprisingly, there was considerable overlap — 17 of the most trafficked sites were also the most shared via Facebook.

Screen Shot 2014-03-14 at 4.25.00 PM

But, it’s a group of outliers that got us thinking. Here’s the relevant nugget from the Pew memo:

[There are] five sites that are among the most shared on Facebook, but do not rank among the most visited sites. All five are conservative-oriented news sites: theblaze.com, breitbart.com, washingtontimes.com, mrconservative.com, and wnd.com.

These sites have relatively modest audiences, with mrconservative.com at the bottom of the list at 772,000 monthly unique visitors….Indeed on average, the four, conservative digital political sites (excluding the legacy washingtontimes.com) got 22% of their traffic from Facebook referrals – far more than any other grouping of news sites.

What explains how those five conservative news sites are so actively shared on Facebook but come nowhere close to the raw traffic numbers of some more mainstream media sites?

Here’s my theory.  Conservatives are a remarkably well-organized and tight-knit group. It’s why every book from a conservative author shoots to the top of the best-seller list. It’s why Fox News Channel’s primetime programming regularly doubles that of its cable competition. It’s why Rush Limbaugh has no talk radio equal among liberals. It’s not terribly surprising then that organizational closeness extends to the digital space where conservative use Facebook to share stories/links from a handful of conservative websites.

The fact that these sites rank as some of the most shared via Facebook but are not in the conversation when it comes to the most trafficked sites also speaks to a broader problem with the conservative movement. Yes, they are organized and effective. But, no, they are not legion.  That’s why conservative voices — and candidates — can dominate a primary election but occasionally nominate a candidate who lacks an appeal to the broader electorate.

Gun rights advocates freak out over ‘No Guns’ sign at singer Toby Keith’s restaurant

Toby Keith via Shutterstock

Wait til they find out he voted for Obama…

The Raw Story

Conservatives and gun activists are in high dudgeon over a sign outside country singer Toby Keith’s new Virginia bar and grill that says “No Guns Permitted.”

According to Washington, DC’s WTOP, the sign has provoked an explosion of outrage online. Many gun rights advocates took to Twitter and other social media to denounce Keith as a “gun hating liberal,” a “fake,” and a “Republican In Name Only” or “RINO.”

“So if ‘no guns are allowed’ I guess that means that police officers that are ‘on duty’ aren’t allowed in for lunch or dinner??” asked Facebook user Connie Hollar Wright on the restaurant’s Facebook page. “Who are you guys callin [sic] when you need help???? Good luck with that!”

“Toby is a gun hating liberal. What a fake,” wrote another.

“Won’t go into a Killing zone,” said another commenter with a “Duck Dynasty” avatar, “which is what gun free zones are.”

The restaurant — called I Love This Bar and Grill — opened in Woodbridge, Virginia this week. The state has an open carry law, which allows citizens to openly carry firearms without a license. Businesses, however, reserve the right to ask patrons not to bring their guns inside.

Not everyone disagrees with the rule.

“I think it’s a good thing no guns are permitted in a restaurant,” said Jean Sutts of Woodbridge to WTOP.

Mike Miskin of Suffolk agreed that “alcohol and guns do not mix. I believe that you should be allowed to carry your gun with you but not into a bar.”

A post at right-wing website Breitbart.com protested that, “(o)ne of Toby Keith’s biggest country video hits is ‘Bullets in the Gun.’ It romanticizes carrying a gun.”

Keith has been politically outspoken on a number of topics, but in fact bills himself as a conservative Democrat. He supported President George W. Bush when rival act the Dixie Chicks criticized Bush at the outset of the War in Iraq.

However, in 2008, Keith donated to then-Sen. Barack Obama’s campaign for president and spoke out in favor of Obama’s policies in the Middle East.

Watch video about this story, embedded here

Teacher Tells Student: ‘We Do Not Need Another Black President’


Barack Hussein Obama – 44th President of the United States

This is the 21st century yet certain groups would rather see this country return back to the 18th century.

Liberals Unite

The 24 hour magazine for discerning Liberals

A young, African-American boy in Fairfield, Ohio had his presidential aspirations stomped on when his teacher, Gil Voigt, repeatedly told him, “we do not need another black president.” Voigt has been suspended.

According to Fairfield school board President, Dan Murray, Voigt’s suspension is the first step in permanently getting rid of him.

“He was talking to some students and said some things that were racially insensitive. We take diversity in our school district very seriously with tolerance of people who are different. We just felt this teacher had crossed the line,” Murray said.

Source: Journal News

Oh, but in case you think the school board is reacting in a quick and timely manner, this is Voigt’s fourth time in front of the board.

(Superintendent Paul) Otten said Voigt had been reprimanded for racially insensitive remarks in the past. A report prepared by Assistant Superintendent Roger Martin lists four instances of discipline: A verbal warning in April 2008 for an “inappropriate racial comment,” another in November 2008 for “improper use of school technology” and a third in December 2013 for “inappropriate comments to students.” He also received a written warning last month for “failure to use adopted curriculum.”

Voigt, who works for Fairfield Freshman School, earns $73,566 per year, makes almost 75% more than the average Ohio state employee and toward the top of the range for Ohio teachers.

Voigt isn’t the first Ohio teacher to be disciplined for racism. On Halloween, Akron’s David Spondike took to Facebook to rant about a teen who urinated in front of some trick-or-treaters. He posted:

I don’t mind if you come to my neighborhood from the ghetto to trick-or-treat. But when you whip out your teeny dicks and piss on the telephone pole in front of my yard and a bunch of preschoolers and toddlers, you can take your nigger-ass back where it came from. I don’t have anything against anyone of any color, but niggers, stay out!

He claimed he wasn’t racist, though:

“Racism” implies prejudging, which is clearly not what happened here. Making any excuse for allowing one race to use a word and condemning another race for using the same word is institutionalized racism in and of itself, regardless of the justification used.

Spondike’s future is still uncertain and Voigt has 10 days from the time of notification to appeal his suspension.

H/t: TW