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Facebook Employee Fired for Abusing Customer Info to Stalk Women on Tinder—Is Our Privacy Safe Now?

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Sure, the Cambridge Analytica thing was a big deal, but Facebook is really sorry about that now. Surely we can count on them to go out of their way to ensure that no one abuses the data they’ve gathered to target an unsuspecting user base, right? Oh, one of their employees was using customer data to stalk women on Tinder? Okay, never mind.

This weekend, a cybersecurity consultant named Jackie Stokes discovered that an unnamed security engineer at Facebook was not only using customer information to stalk users on Tinder, but bragging about it to one of the very women he found this way while texting with her. Stokes saw the conversation, then determined that the stalker worked at Facebook by cross-referencing online profiles. She then tweeted her findings:

In a screenshot of the incriminating conversation, the FB security engineer seemed to be talking to a woman he found on Tinder having stalked her using her Facebook information.

WOMAN: You’re a security analyst? I think that’s really cool.
ENGINEER: Haha more than that…but based off that…I also try to figure out who hackers are in real life…so professional stalker. so out of habit I have to say that you are hard to find lol
WOMAN: Wow. Lol. Is that what you’re currently doing? Trying to internet stalk me?

Wait, so you used information I thought was private on Facebook to find me on Tinder? Lol.

On the plus side, once Stokes told Facebook about her findings, they moved really quickly. As Alex Stamos, Facebook’s chief information security officer said in an interview with Motherboard:

“We are investigating this as a matter of urgency. It’s important that people’s information is kept secure and private when they use Facebook. It’s why we have strict policy controls and technical restrictions so employees only access the data they need to do their jobs—for example to fix bugs, manage customer support issues or respond to valid legal requests. Employees who abuse these controls will be fired.”

And so, Facebook fired this guy two days after they were made aware of the situation. Stokes praised the company, and Stamos in particular, for handling things so quickly:

This story highlights the fact that when it comes to online security, it’s not only about privacy settings, or what can be handled through advancements in security technologies. It’s about fostering a work environment in which valuing things like this is important. Technology is only as good as the people who use it.

When hiring people to work in the security realm, their ethical qualifications need to be considered alongside their tech qualifications. And when discussing issues of privacy and security, the human component cannot be overlooked. All the technological advancements in the world are no match for the power of entitled assholes looking for a date.

So, maybe let’s not let those assholes have jobs guarding people’s private information, m’kay?

(via The Daily Dot, image: mstable/Flickr)

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Image of Teresa Jusino
Teresa Jusino
Teresa Jusino (she/her) is a native New Yorker and a proud Puerto Rican, Jewish, bisexual woman with ADHD. She's been writing professionally since 2010 and was a former TMS assistant editor from 2015-18. Now, she's back as a contributing writer. When not writing about pop culture, she's writing screenplays and is the creator of your future favorite genre show. Teresa lives in L.A. with her brilliant wife. Her other great loves include: Star Trek, The Last of Us, anything by Brian K. Vaughan, and her Level 5 android Paladin named Lal.