Codebreaker

Facebook offers critical tool for people in Tunisia, and the Tunisian government steals their passwords

John Moe Jan 24, 2011
Codebreaker

Facebook offers critical tool for people in Tunisia, and the Tunisian government steals their passwords

John Moe Jan 24, 2011

The Atlantic writes today about what Facebook has meant to protesters and how authorities have been messing with people’s info on the site. In all the political turmoil, Tunisians used Facebook as a platform to share videos,

But it wasn’t just videos that people were sharing. All kinds of information passed between Tunisians. For activists as well as everyday people, Facebook became an indispensable resource for tracking the minute-by-minute development of the situation. By January 8, Facebook says that it had several hundred thousand more users than it had ever had before in Tunisia, a country with a few more people than Michigan. Scaled up to the size to the U.S., the burst of activity was like adding 10 million users in a week. And the average time spent on the site more than doubled what it had been before.

Meanwhile, Facebook’s security team figured out that the Internet service providers were running code that was gathering up users’ logins and passwords when they went to various sites, including Facebook. The company’s Chief Security Officer, Joe Sullivan, had been tracking the security issue for some time and decided to

“take an apolitical approach to the problem. This was simply a hack that required a technical response. “At its core, from our standpoint, it’s a security issue around passwords and making sure that we protect the integrity of passwords and accounts,” he said. “It was very much a black and white security issue and less of a political issue.”

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