Facebook cancelled Harvard student’s internship after he revealed Messenger privacy flaw

According to a media report, social networking giant Facebook has cancelled the internship of an Indian-origin Harvard student – Aran Khanna, 21 – after he developed an app which has revealed the privacy flaws in the Facebook Messenger service.

As per the report, Khanna had accepted an internship offer from Facebook this spring. Soon after that, he created a Chrome extension -- called ‘Marauders Map’ -- which used data from the Facebook Messenger service to map out the location of the users when they sent messages.

The report has further disclosed that the ‘Marauders Map’ browser application created by Khanna “capitalised on a privacy flaw” in the Facebook Messenger service --- that is, the service automatically shares users' locations with people to whom they sent messages. The report claims that Facebook had probably been aware of the mentioned flaw in Messenger for nearly three years.

The ‘Marauders Map’ app was revealed by Khanna in a Twitter post dated May 26; and the tweet soon went viral. Within three days, Facebook told Khanna to disable the app; and the company then withdrew its offer of internship to him. Moreover, to ensure that Khanna’s app does not work, Facebook also reportedly deactivated location sharing from desktops.

Detailing his experiences in a case study published for the Harvard Journal of Technology Science this week; Khanna has claimed the Chrome extension created by him was downloaded more than 85,000 times before it was disabled.

United States