Facebook bug leaks members’ birthday data

July 17, 2008 – 5:48 AM

A glitch in a test version of Facebook’s Web site inadvertently exposed the birthdays of Facebook’s 80 million members this week.

The bug was discovered over the weekend by Graham Cluley, a senior technology consultant at Sophos. While checking out Facebook’s new design, Cluley noticed that the birth dates of some of his privacy-obsessed acquaintances were popping up when they should have been hidden.

Facebook allows users to control who sees private information such as their birth date, which can be a valuable nugget of data for identity thieves. But Cluley discovered that the new site was making this information public to other members. “Their new profile page essentially ignored the privacy setting to withhold the data of birth,” he said.

“For a brief period of time, a small number of users were able to access a private beta of Facebook’s new site design meant only for developers. During that time, some of those users had their birthdays revealed due to a bug,” Facebook said Wednesday in a statement. The company could not say exactly how long this data was exposed or how many people viewed the beta site, but the bug was patched within hours of Cluley’s discovery.


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