The majority of us are painfully aware that companies are persistently mining our personal data in their relentless quest to make a profit from it. You would think that something like your Facebook presence (& email address) would be particularly valuable, but what value you would you put on it?
I’m not a number crunching type, maths was never my strong point but I’d guess a buck or two, maybe less, maybe $0.50 – surely it can’t be less than that though, can it?
Well according to Czech IT Consultant Bogo Shopov it is considerably less than that! He claims to have paid just $5 for a spreadsheet containing ONE MILLION links to valid Facebook accounts which included the users’ real names and their email addresses!
That works out at just $0.000005 each if you are willing to buy in bulk, which all of the companies who go digging for your data like to do!
In his blog, Shopov said that he came across the unbelievable find whilst scouring the internet for bargains, he said: “I have the bloody habit to look for cheap deals on some websites.”
This particular find turned up on Gigbucks.com – a site where individuals offer various different data mining services and according to the Daily Dot, the offer of 1million users’ info for $5 is still on there!!
The description of the offer says:
The information in this list has been collected through our Facebook apps and consists only of active Facebook users, mostly from the US, Canada, UK and Europe. There are users from other countries as well but they are almost exclusively English speaking as well, as all the apps we provide are written in English and to use them properly one needs to read the instructions. The list is checked and validated once a month so you won’t get a list full of invalid or duplicate email addresses. Whether you are offering a Facebook, Twitter, social media related or otherwise a general product or service, this list has a great potential for you. Finally, the list is in a zipped excel format split into 12 sheets, each sheet containing roughly 100,000 email addresses with name, last name and facebook profile information separated with comma.
“I make a quick check over the data and surprise, surprise: most of them are real and I even know some of those users.”
Shopov then took a screenshot of a page from the document and the Daily Dot verified that at least some of the accounts listed there were valid (according to SEC Filing – Facebook has 83 million fake accounts).
Then things get really interesting, Shopov claims to have been emailed by Facebook’s Platform Policy Team requesting his phone number. They contacted the IT Consultant and demanded details of his purchase. Then they told him to delete his blog post about the incident and not tell anyone about the conversation. How very cloak-and-dagger!
“Warning: According to Facebook you are not allowed to read this post, so beware.”
The Daily Dot has stated that Facebook has not yet responded to their request for an official comment on this sensational story!