Bad news for a CEO that predicted Facebook users would eventually stop having anxiety about online privacy: Users' personal Facebook information is apparently for sale in shady corners of the Internet, and it's awfully cheap, to boot.
Bulgarian IT consultant Bogomil Shopov claimed in a recent blog to have purchased personal information on more than 1 million Facebook users, for the frighteningly low price of $5.00. The data reportedly includes users' full names, email addresses and links to their Facebook pages.
According to a cached version of the for-sale page on Gigbucks, the information was harvested mostly from English-speaking Facebook users in the U.S., Canada, the U.K. and Europe. A long list of satisfied customers near the bottom of the page bears witness to the information's accuracy.
"All this for 5 bucks. Incredible!" reads one review. Another tellingly states, "Real Data, real users. Like it :) Anyway beware what are you doing on Facebook :)"
According to Forbes, the data had been collected by Facebook applications and didn't just consist of information from public profiles.
Shopov told New Media Rockstars he came across the offer by chance, then decided to act on it, he said, in order to "to share it with the world. People must carefully share their personal data.”
Soon after writing about the data on his blog, Shopov says he received an inquiry from members of Facebook's "Platform Policy Team," who requested they speak on the phone.
"Our conversation began exactly on the agreed minute and with the warning that it 'is being recorded,'" he wrote of the experience. "The part where they usually say that it is for the purpose of 'improving the service' was spared."
He says they then directed him to send them the file, delete his copy of it and inform them of the details of his purchase. "Oh and by the way," the rep continued on the phone, per Shopov's recollection, "you are not allowed to disclose any part of this conversation; it is a secret that we are even having this conversation.” Naturally, Shopov hopped online and shared every last detail.
Facebook told Forbes it's looking into the claims but declined to give specifics, citing the ongoing investigation.