Maybe you read this piece of news yesterday: A security researcher collected the names and URL's of 170 million publicly available Facebook profiles and released them as a BitTorrent file. Then, Gizmodo told us that "major corporations are downloading those 100 million Facebook profiles."
And what about all these corporations downloading the torrent file? Torrent files crowdsource the process of sharing data. When you download something using a torrent file, you get that data from other users and can retrieve their IP addresses. Match those up against a list of known companies' addresses and you've generated a spreadsheet of company networks. Gizmodo found 65 that have been known to belong to corporations or major organizations including the United Nations and U.S. Postal Service. But, as they note, that doesn't mean the organizations themselves were downloading the files. It just means that at least one person using a computer at Boeing, Apple, Raytheon or Levi Strauss & Co. was trying to download the file. Why? They were probably curious.
Atlantic Media could very nearly have made the list. Both a colleague and I tried to download the files yesterday, but were thwarted by the company's torrent-downloading ban. (Yes, I know there are ways around it, but it wasn't worth the investment of time.) Why did I do it? I like to check my facts.
There are significant privacy concerns with all social media tools and the data they ingest. But this data release and its downloaders are a genuine molehill.
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