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 Sophos Senior Technology Consultant Graham Cluley. 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.
The consultant who found the problem does not consider it to be a serious privacy or security breach, but said, "It raises a more serious question which is, ‘Can you trust these social networks to look after your data properly?’"
Facebook and other social networking sites have come under fire for privacy and security vulnerabilities in their systems before. You can read about some of these issues in a previous post.