The Wall Street Journal has an adaptation from an upcoming book buy Katherine Losse, who worked at social-networking site Facebook in the early days of the company’s history. Although the premise is about being a woman in a male-dominiated company, what caught my eye was her statement concerning the privacy of Facebook users’ data:
A Stanford grad introduced me and another newbie to the janky application through which users’ emails to Facebook flowed. Once we learned how the software worked, he taught us, without batting an eye, the master password with which we could log in as any Facebook user and gain access to all messages and data. “You can’t write it down,” he said, and so we committed it to memory.
I briefly experienced stunned disbelief: They just hand over the password with no background check to make sure that I am not a crazed stalker?
Security measures would be implemented later that made it impossible for anyone to use the master password without authenticating themselves as an employee. And a year after that, the password would disappear entirely in favor of other, more secure forms of logging in to repair accounts. But at the beginning, there was only one password. For us, as administrators, everything on Facebook really was there for the seeing.