What once began as a college student’s pet project turned social network titan--has always been a patron of ‘white hacking’ and user reporting. People who found bugs within Facebook were known to be rewarded, usually exceeding hundreds of dollars. This is actually an ingenious system as these bugs and flaws could be exploited and sold to the black market if there was no immediate profit alternative by reporting it to Facebook. Yet, a recent incident seems to illustrate that Facebook has started to turn its back on the little guys who come in good will?
In August, a Palestinian security specialist named Khalil Shreateh found a bug that allowed a person post on other people’s walls without being friends with them. A fatal flaw like this should have been deemed worthy of serious review and monetary reward, but it was instead ignored and he was told that “this was not a bug”. Unabated by this such stonewalling, Khalid instead posted a message on the wall of the creator himself: Mark Zuckerberg. It read: “Sorry for breaking your privacy ... but a couple of days ago, I found a serious Facebook exploit”. It continued on to explain how Facebook had ignored him. Following this noble ‘prank’, Shreateh was contacted by a Facebook engineer for more details on this bug then was temporarily suspended from Facebook.
Even though this bug was ultimately accepted by Facebook, Shreateh was not rewarded for his efforts as he, according to Facebook, violated the terms of service by hacking Zuckerberg’s account. However, some people have stood by Shreateh’s hacking by arguing that if Facebook’s security team had taken him seriously the first two times, there would have been no need to hack Zuckerberg in the first place. However, the question by far is ultimately up for greater public debate.