Facebook E-mail Leak Claims are Bogus

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It's healthy to distrust many aspects of Facebook, especially after it recently crowned itself prince of privacy problems. However, the anti-Facebook pig pile has gotten out of hand when legit publications like The Register rail against the social networking site without warrant.

The latest thrown spear accuses Facebook of leaking "thousands" of e-mail addresses unassociated with the site via the "Find a Friend" feature. Where did this report come from? One man: a blogger named Cory Watilo. So where did "thousands" come from? Nobody knows.

Watilo discovered this "bug" after he Googled his e-mail address to see where it appeared on the Web. He found Google had indexed it from its association with Facebook. However, Watilo claimed he never gave that e-mail address away.

All Facebook -- a blog devoted to guess what -- leapt on the carcass and proceeded to gnaw. Facebook then released a statement:

"We are investigating this situation but in cases we have identified, Facebook users have republished e-mails from Facebook elsewhere on the Internet, making public their own e-mail addresses. In some instances, these venues have been personal blogs or public mailing list archives such as Yahoo Groups. As a precaution, we have stopped indexing these pages in Google but cannot control users who choose to republish their e-mails in blogs or mailing list archives."

Illustration: Jeffrey Pelo
Further investigation revealed that Watilo had, in fact, published his e-mail address. Whoopsie! Still, Facebook fixed the "glitch." It deserves a hand for patching a problem it never had to begin with.

Then All Facebook writer Nick O'Neill pulled a face-slap and admitted his error: "Looks like my logic was a little bit flawed there ... Guess that's what I get for going through half-completed logic while in the midst of programming something else. I think I need to step away from the computer at this point!"

Let this stand as an example of letting paranoia control our cognition. Yes, Facebook has its problems -- even with broadcasting e-mail addresses. But before we light our torches and raise our pitchforks, we should read a little more, ask a few more questions, and give Facebook and its Nixonian leader a break.

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