Switch reader: Mark Zuckerberg should thank the guy who hacked his Facebook page

August 25, 2013

Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg (Justin Sullivan/GETTY IMAGES)

It wouldn't matter what we write here at The Switch if no one read it. That's why we like to take a little time each weekend to feature some of our favorite comments from our dear readers.

Facebook users with an appreciation for schadenfreude got a kick out of this story from Caitlin Dewey: An unemployed Palestinian developer named Khalil Shreateh exploited a bug to leave a public comment on Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s wall after the security team failed to get back to him several times. But since he went such an unorthodox route, Facebook announced it wouldn't be paying him for finding the bug.

User Lolo31 wrote a very proper note to Zuckerberg explaining why he feels Facebook should pay the bounty to Shreateh:

Dear Mr. Zuckerberg:

I'd be lying if I said that I didn't initially laugh at the fact that your Facebook account had been hacked. Forgive me. That being said, I can likewise appreciate your horror upon seeing that your own account had been breached.

While I understand that there are "rules" associated with "white hat" hacking, Khalil Shreateh repeatedly attempted to "red flag" a known "bug" and was summarily dismissed by one (or more) of YOUR OWN employees. Admittedly, the method by which Shreateh chose to bring the 'bug' to your intention was an unorthodox one. However, I do believe that he did so in good faith.

It was not Shreateh's intention to invade your privacy, but to communicate to you directly what he had otherwise been unable to get across to YOUR EMPLOYEES. After numerous failed attempts to go through proper channels, he likely saw no other way to bring the matter to your attention.

You'd be wise to recognize that he likewise acted to secure the interests of your $100 BILLION business. It's not every day that a complete stranger from the opposite side of the world hurdles a language barrier to accomplish the same.

I wrote Thursday about how President Obama promised a panel of "outside experts" to review surveillance policies, only to name White House and intelligence insiders. Reader The Keed noted some details about one member of the panel that didn't make it into our initial coverage:

You left out relevant details re: Cass Sunstein. Glenn Greenwald wrote about it at Salon.com awhile back:

"In 2008, while at Harvard Law School, Sunstein co-wrote a truly pernicious paper proposing that the U.S. Government employ teams of covert agents and pseudo-"independent" advocates to "cognitively infiltrate" online groups and websites - as well as other activist groups - which advocate views that Sunstein deems "false conspiracy theories" about the Government. This would be designed to increase citizens' faith in government officials and undermine the credibility of conspiracists. The paper's abstract can be read, and the full paper downloaded, here."

I followed up on that paper in a full post Friday.

When Timothy B. Lee wrote about the reports that the NSA could reach 75 percent of domestic Internet traffic last Tuesday, reader TFCFM argued that there was a simple solution: "Don't use the Internet to break the law." But commenter vulgrin1 responded:

That's great advice until someone changes the law and you are swept up on suspicion. Or, someone decides to use that information to pressure, abuse, or demonize you.

The point is that NSA et al need to be going after real targets, not dragging a net over the entire Internet. Just because you can't SEE them do it, does not make it any less real.

Let me ask this: should the police be able to walk into EVERY SINGLE HOUSE and rifle through all your papers every single day, at their leisure, in hopes of finding out that you received mail from someone else who might be a terrorist? Or in the case of PRISM, a friend of a friend of a friend of a friend who is a terrorist?

What you are saying is "Sure they can. Just don't know any terrorists."

Andrea Peterson covers technology policy for The Washington Post, with an emphasis on cybersecurity, consumer privacy, transparency, surveillance and open government.
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