Blogger Bogomil “Bogo” Shopov claimed that he found an offer where he could buy 12 Excel spreadsheets of sensitive Facebook data for a very low price. Once he bought the info, he wrote in his blog: “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 said in a subsequent blog post a few days later that Facebook had found out about his purchase and wanted to talk to him over the phone about it. While the company thanked him for the information, they wanted him to keep mum about their conversation and the privacy leak.
The blogger claims that Facebook’s policy department sent him this message: “Now we would like you to send us this file, delete it, tell us if you have given a copy of it to someone, give us the website from which you bought it including all transactions with it and the payment system and remove a couple of things from your blog. Oh and by the way, you are not allowed to disclose any part of this conversation; it is a secret that we are even having this conversation.”
He sent the data to Facebook but couldn’t get any more answers from them other than that the information wouldn’t be shared to third parties and that he must not talk about their conversation. He did it anyway.
Shopov is a Bulgarian online IT marketing consultant currently living in the Czech Republic. In his “About Me” page on the blog, Shopov said, “I defend the open source and free software principles as well as the Internet users’ digital rights.” He told NMR by email that he stumbled across the offer as he was looking for some ideas on how do to his work better.
“When I found this ‘deal’ I was provoked to buy it and to share it with the world. People must carefully share their personal data.”
Shopov thinks that Facebook is making him keep quiet because they want to do their own investigation without having the government or users knowing what’s going on. He believes that the fact that he can buy so much private information for $5 shows that Facebook “doesn’t care about my privacy at all.”
He said, “They don’t need any more trouble, but their users have to know what’s happening. Another reason can be – the investors and the market is not happy with another ‘we are bad guys’ story.”