An online security consultant has published the personal information of millions of Facebook users to a downloadable file.
The document includes more than 170 million profiles, or roughly a third of all active Facebook accounts worldwide.
Its publisher, Ron Bowles a consultant and blogger for Skull Security, complied the list using the names from Facebook’s online directory.
Facebook users can choose to be a part of the site’s directory by changing privacy settings. Facebook recently gave users new settings so they could limit what information they want to share.
But some people complain it’s a confusing process.
“It’s harder to figure out, and some of it I just leave blank,” said Facebook user David Alacron.
“I put my address and the year I’m born and things like that,” said Amanda Mace, 20.
Facebook users can choose what information they want to share with their online friends on Facebook and even search such as like Google.
But there are many users who either don’t know or don’t care to change their privacy settings.
And don’t expect Facebook to tell users what they can and can’t share. They’ll have to rely on common sense.
“Unless your actually making a purchase online where you can be secure that you credit card is being processed securely, but anything else that you post online, people can find it,” said Evy Hanson, director of operations for Image Marketing Concepts, a website development company.
Thousands have already downloaded the list from the website “Pirate Bay.”
Bowles says he posted the document to highlight the online privacy issues
Hanson said it could have been worse.
“We were all just lucky that the person who unveiled this wasn’t of more malicious intent. Obviously the information he pulled is out there, but he could have immediately gone in and done some major damage,” said Hanson.
But it’s unclear what the fallout could be in the information lands in the wrong persons hands.