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24-Year-Old Asks Facebook For His Data, Gets 1,200 PDFs 291

Posted by Soulskill
from the ask-and-ye-shall-receive dept.
chicksdaddy writes "Be careful of what you ask for. That's a lesson Max Schrems of Vienna, Austria learned the hard way when he sent a formal request to Facebook for a copy of every piece of personal information that the social network had collected on him, as required under European law. After a wait, the 24-year-old law student got what he was seeking: a CD with all his data stored on it — 1,222 files in all. The collection of PDFs was roughly the length of Leo Tolstoy's War and Peace, but told a more mundane story: a record of Schrems' years-long relationship with the world's largest social network, including reams of data he had deleted. Now Schrems is pushing Facebook to disclose even more of what it knows."
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24-Year-Old Asks Facebook For His Data, Gets 1,200 PDFs

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  • by ThisIsNotMyHandel (1013943) on Tuesday December 13, 2011 @08:21PM (#38364102)
    It should be illegal for these companies to keep user generated content once the user deletes it.
    • by earls (1367951) on Tuesday December 13, 2011 @08:24PM (#38364134)

      What if I want them to? Version control, anyone?

      • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

        by Anonymous Coward
        You might be legally retarded.
        • by dougmc (70836) <dougmc+slashdot@frenzied.us> on Tuesday December 13, 2011 @08:38PM (#38364276) Homepage

          You might be legally retarded.

          Huh?

          His point is perfectly valid. Wikipedia is, for example, all about version control. Somebody defaces a page? Revert.

          • The AC's post wasn't necessarily wrong; think of it as a non-sequitor. Don't get me wrong: I have nothing against EARLS and I don't believe that user is legally retarded by any stretch of the imagination. However, I do find it more comforting to look at venomous AC posts as something other than related commentary.
          • by JAlexoi (1085785) on Tuesday December 13, 2011 @09:15PM (#38364600) Homepage
            If you remove YOUr own content, there should be no going back. Wikipedia is a different beast - it's about facts being collected into a single place.
            • by ganjadude (952775) on Tuesday December 13, 2011 @11:45PM (#38365722) Homepage
              and when "insert random person here" accesses your account and mucks it all up on you..."you" deleted it, but YOU didnt.... than what?
              • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday December 14, 2011 @01:25AM (#38366386)

                1) You could revert the next day. The OP didn't say it should be deleted instantly, just within a reasonable amount of time. Keeping data for 1 month to allow user reversals and another 5 months for backup tape recycling is reasonable. Keeping your data for years like they do now is a different matter.

                2) This backup/restore function you speak of is not available in Facebook anyway, despite them having the data available forever.

            • by N1AK (864906) on Wednesday December 14, 2011 @05:20AM (#38367510) Homepage
              How about you stop trying to decide what should happen to other peoples data for them. I'm perfectly happy with Facebook keeping everything I delete by default. I would however appreciate the ability to actually delete something if I ever wanted to (which thus far hasn't happened). I would also like it if they were up front about what they're doing. It is misleading to call it deletion, which most people understand to mean it will cease to exist at some point, and then keep it indefinitely.
              • by JAlexoi (1085785) on Wednesday December 14, 2011 @10:23AM (#38369452) Homepage

                How about you stop trying to decide what should happen to other peoples data for them.

                My reaction to that statement is - WHAT!?!?!?!
                It's the owner who is removing it, not someone else. Just because you want your data to be stored for years, doesn't mean that I should be deprived of the option to remove it permanently. If anything, current situation takes away my choice to remove the information permanently, while not affecting you in any meaningful way.

                PS: And if they want to do business in EU, they have to comply with the rules people of EU set out.

            • by msobkow (48369) on Wednesday December 14, 2011 @01:43PM (#38372186) Homepage Journal

              I agree, it should be your choice. However, I'm one who really, really likes the idea of keeping an edit history for posts if one so chooses.

              And I can understand why Facebook doesn't actually delete the data, but just flags it as hidden/deleted -- it's a real bear to update and nullify all the object id references to a post in such a mammoth system. There are links all over the place from people whose "feed" pages may reference your post. There are forwards and reposts of your post which create a commented link to your post -- does your right to delete your post mean you have the right to delete the posts of people who've commented on it?

              Given that some of the content links could be in archived databases instead of mainline storage or cache, updating them could be virtually impossible.

              Canada is facing the same issue with it's Long Gun Registry being shut down by Harper's Conservative government -- the data is cross-linked throughout government and law enforcement system, with over a decade of archived databases referencing the LGR databases. Truly deleting the data requires restoring the archived external databases, updating their contents to remove the references, exporting the database for an updated backup, and archiving it for storage.

              Now there's the cascade effect -- any references to the archive disks now have to be updated to reference the new archive database content instead of the original.

              They're currently expecting it to take over FIVE YEARS to purge that one database, and it's pitifully small compared to Facebook or Google.

              Never mind the potential legal issues of external and archive systems that are mandated to be write-only by government legislation, and which have to be retained for 7-10 years in many cases.

              Realistically, a versioning system or flagging content as deleted instead of purging it is the only option available for large systems that maintain historical data of any significant size.

          • His point is perfectly valid. Wikipedia is, for example, all about version control. Somebody defaces a page? Revert.

            There is a clear difference here. Wikipedia tells you that's the deal up front. You don't have to file a foia request to find out.

            • IIRC it is in facebook's TOS as well and if I can guess correctly it is in the
              TOS of pretty much anything on the Internet that has a TOS document

      • by hawguy (1600213) on Tuesday December 13, 2011 @09:12PM (#38364562)

        What if I want them to? Version control, anyone?

        You haven't deleted it if you expect it to be recoverable from a version control system.

        But when I have a reasonable expectation for something to be deleted forever (like when I empty my Gmail trash folder), then the carrier should take reasonable steps to make said item unrecoverable within a reasonable timeframe.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Should it also be illegal for me to keep a record of your appearance in my mind once you leave the room as well?

      >Making up arbitrary emotionally motivated "this should be illegal" arguments on the fly.

      • by CannonballHead (842625) on Tuesday December 13, 2011 @08:37PM (#38364258)
        "Making up arbitrary emotionally motivated "this should be illegal" arguments on the fly."
        That should be illegal.
      • by Oxford_Comma_Lover (1679530) on Tuesday December 13, 2011 @08:38PM (#38364264)

        Your personal knowledge of a prior event concerning me does not raise privacy concerns. Your automatic and routine compilation of all prior events concerning me and sharing of that information with intelligence agencies, law enforcement, and commercial partners does.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by tgd (2822)

          Your personal knowledge of a prior event concerning me does not raise privacy concerns. Your automatic and routine compilation of all prior events concerning me and sharing of that information with intelligence agencies, law enforcement, and commercial partners does.

          Your life isn't nearly as interesting as you think. Your mundanity is your privacy. Your value to Facebook is your eyeballs and the ads they can serve.

          And if your life was any interest to anyone, there'd be people working a lot harder to penetrate your privacy.

          • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

            by Anonymous Coward

            Someone's looking for you. Thanks to information on the internet, they find you. Then they murder you.

            Okay, that probably won't happen to me personally. But guess what? It (not necessarily that extreme example) has to happen to someone. And that someone could be me (not that I don't care if it happens to others).

            Someone will inevitably be interested in someone else's life. Pretending that because it doesn't happen to you, it doesn't happen to anyone, is foolish.

          • by Capt. Skinny (969540) on Tuesday December 13, 2011 @10:15PM (#38365006)

            Your mundanity is your privacy

            Perhaps, as long as you remain obscure. But once you become a research target -- being suspected of a crime, mentioned in a news story, or applying for a security clearance, for example -- then all that data can provide seeds for speculation about your motives, integrity, or personality.

            The public IP addresses of my servers are buried in relative obscurity, just another 32-bit number among millions. But if I post a log file to a support forum then you can bet that I'll strip that IP address out.

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by Anonymous Coward

            Your life isn't nearly as interesting as you think. Your mundanity is your privacy. Your value to Facebook is your eyeballs and the ads they can serve.

            And if your life was any interest to anyone, there'd be people working a lot harder to penetrate your privacy.

            In other words, if you behave yourself, act like a good little citizen, pay your taxes, and don't complain you have nothing to fear, right? And of course, if you don't, you have no rights, and you shouldn't, either, because you are a Bad Person.

          • by yahwotqa (817672)

            > Your life isn't nearly as interesting as you think. Your mundanity is your privacy.

            But but but... I thought I'm special and unique, like a snowflake?!

          • by Chris Pimlott (16212) on Tuesday December 13, 2011 @10:51PM (#38365290)

            Everyone is interesting to somebody, even if it's just their local bartender/coworker/pizza delivery guy/romantic rival... Now it used to be the case that it didn't matter as none of these everyday "mundane" acquaintances had the time, access or expertise to pull together a dossier but today it's pretty trivial.

          • by pclminion (145572) on Wednesday December 14, 2011 @02:54AM (#38366890)

            And if your life was any interest to anyone, there'd be people working a lot harder to penetrate your privacy.

            You're trying to look at an elephant through a microscope. The danger isn't the violation of any one person's privacy. The danger is the emergence of a kind of "total information awareness," where inferences can be drawn on larger social scales. For instance, detecting when a protest is about to materialize, measuring the effectiveness of propaganda techniques, tracking politically unfavorable trends in conversations, etc.

            I'm not in principle opposed to the ability to do that, but right now the ability is very one sided. Facebook (as well as any government who can order them to do things) has all the information. We don't.

          • by Solandri (704621) on Wednesday December 14, 2011 @04:54AM (#38367360)

            Your life isn't nearly as interesting as you think. Your mundanity is your privacy. Your value to Facebook is your eyeballs and the ads they can serve.

            If I'm really that uninteresting, and my only value is in my interests and the ads respond best to, then why the hell is Facebook retaining practically everything about me?

        • by DogDude (805747)
          It's public information. Anybody can and many organizations do archive online information. The millisecond information is posted online, it's forever public. I don't understand why people find this concept so hard to grasp.
          • by hedwards (940851)

            Because it's not always posted by the person to whom it applies. Personally I don't care about what other people post about themselves. I do however care very much about the things that they post about me. That and the crackers that trojaned TD Ameritrade and released my contact information to the net at large.

        • by Galestar (1473827) on Tuesday December 13, 2011 @10:55PM (#38365348)
          Except for the fact that you come to me on a daily basis and intentionally and willingly disclose this information to me, after I warned you in my EULA that I reserve the right to do exactly that.

          Should people think twice before they post every stupid detail of their lives on Facebook? Yes
          Should it be illegal for Facebook to do what they do? No.
    • by swalve (1980968) on Tuesday December 13, 2011 @08:31PM (#38364218)
      So they should have an army tasked with sanitizing all the backup tapes whenever I delete a photo?
      • by PopeRatzo (965947) * on Tuesday December 13, 2011 @08:52PM (#38364380) Homepage Journal

        So they should have an army tasked with sanitizing all the backup tapes whenever I delete a photo?

        What is this, 1985? You think it takes an "army" of people to go back and delete data?

        Tell you what, if Facebook was ever charged with some legal wrongdoing and expected subpoenas, I bet they'd be able to "sanitize" their data post haste without an "army" of people, and without deleting anything critical to their operations. Funny how that works, no?

        • by blueg3 (192743) on Tuesday December 13, 2011 @10:42PM (#38365224)

          Reliably? Yes. Sure, it's easy to delete the copy in the production database. It's harder to prove that if the disks backing the production database were stolen and analyzed, it would be impossible to recover the data. It's harder still to locate and redact every backup of the database that contains the data. (It's even harder still to prove that a copy of the data doesn't persist on another user's hard drive as a result of having viewed the data in a web browser.)

          This is the Cloud Era; you can't reliably delete data any more.

      • by Stormthirst (66538) on Tuesday December 13, 2011 @08:53PM (#38364388)

        If they are like any organisation I've worked for, they over write the tapes. So no, they don't.

        All they have to do is actually delete stuff when a user asks them to, instead of telling the user they have, and then snickering behind their hands like naughty school kids. The buttons on the webpages are marked "delete", and any user should have an expectation that the button would do what it says it does.

      • by mcavic (2007672) on Tuesday December 13, 2011 @09:31PM (#38364724)

        So they should have an army tasked with sanitizing all the backup tapes whenever I delete a photo?

        No, backups are fine. But if I tell Facebook to delete something, they should delete it so that it fades out of the backups. Not keep it in their working data, but marked as deleted.

        This goes 10 times as much for email providers, as well as credit card numbers, SSN's, etc, once the legitimate need for that information is finished.

        Yes, someone may have already copied (or stolen) the data. But this is just about a service provider acting like we expect them to act, not secretly collecting personal information for their own purposes.

      • by Algae_94 (2017070) on Tuesday December 13, 2011 @09:39PM (#38364798) Journal
        No, backups will eventually get overwritten. Deleting a photo should actually delete it in the live system, not just tag it with some metadata that marks it as deleted so no one sees it. I'm not exactly sure how Facebook marks things deleted, but I am sure they don't delete it.

        A simple confirmation prompt for a delete would be enough to prevent most unwanted deletions. If you happen to delete a photo you want back, you should have done your own local backup of that file to re-post.

        This really comes down to an issue of data trust with organizations you give your data to. Facebook has shown little reason to trust them with personal data, yet people keep sending it to them. Facebook's entire company value is based on how much information they amass on people. It is therefore not surprising in the least that they don't let people arbitrarily delete data and thus reduce their value.
      • by wanzeo (1800058)

        I highly doubt any large website uses backup tapes. They just keep 3 or 4 copies of everything, in different physical locations. So yes, if I want something deleted, it should be just as easy to delete four copies as it is to delete one.

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by A. B3ttik (1344591)
      I find this attitude so ignorant. How does a company instantly delete backups on redundant servers? How do they delete redundant hard copies kept in closets separated by meatspace? Furthermore, if you upload something to Facebook, and someone ELSE downloads it and saves it to a CD, and you delete it off facebook, should THEY be forced to magically know you deleted it, and delete their copy as well? Does Google have to delete their caches of your facebook page? Or maybe you are saying that Facebook, Google,
      • by bill_mcgonigle (4333) * on Tuesday December 13, 2011 @08:41PM (#38364302) Homepage Journal

        and no matter what arbitrary laws or draconian regulations you force companies to abide by,

        We're going to mandate that they both delete data instantly to protect privacy and that they implement mandatory data retention periods so that data can be subpoenaed in the event of a crime.

      • by Oxford_Comma_Lover (1679530) on Tuesday December 13, 2011 @08:42PM (#38364308)

        It might be that the problems suggest, not that the proposed solution should be discarded, but that an alternative solution incorporating both the motivation for that solution and the problems inherent in executing it should be proposed.

        For example, perhaps all non-archival copies of the information could be deleted. Furthermore, if the backup system is constructed with the privacy goal in mind, it is possible to give the user control over the ability of the corporation to restore that user's information--a user, for example, might be permitted to order the company to destroy a key that allows decryption of backed up data entered by the user.

        • by KhabaLox (1906148) on Tuesday December 13, 2011 @09:46PM (#38364830)

          -a user, for example, might be permitted to order the company to destroy a key that allows decryption of backed up data entered by the user.

          +1 insightful.

          GP deserves his Informatives too, but P makes a very good point as well.

          Rather than pick positions (e.g. delete it instantly vs. it will be around forever) and evaluate the relative merits or possibilities, it is perhaps more fruitful to understand the motivations for a user to want FB to delete his data, and for FB to keep redundant backups for long periods of time. Once we understand the motivations behind the positions, we can come to a better negotiated outcome (such as the examples P gives) that satisfy both parties. This is the essence of Principled Negotiation [colorado.edu].

          (My boss made me read "Getting to Yes.")

      • by bennomatic (691188) on Tuesday December 13, 2011 @08:46PM (#38364330) Homepage
        It's the flip side of the Vegas coin. "What goes on the Internet stays on the Internet."
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Aldanga (1757414)
        Or utilize a social network like Diaspora [diasporafoundation.org] and control your own data.
      • by PopeRatzo (965947) * on Tuesday December 13, 2011 @09:04PM (#38364488) Homepage Journal

        How does a company instantly delete backups on redundant servers?

        Who said anything about "instantly"?

        And as far as deleting backups on redundant servers, it sounds like it could be done with a few lines of code.

        Furthermore, if you upload something to Facebook, and someone ELSE downloads it and saves it to a CD, and you delete it off facebook, should THEY be forced to magically know you deleted it, and delete their copy as well?

        Now that's kind of a dumb question. This isn't about what some individual does while data is available online. It's about what a company whose business model depends on collecting and monetizing such data does with it. And what they should be allowed to do with it.

        But then, I think that anybody who uses facebook has to know that facebook is all about collecting data on people and monetizing it any way they can. Which is why I will not use facebook. I once created an account there because I needed to do something that required a facebook account, but never really posted anything personal, or real for that matter. I don't have any use for what facebook does and if I did, there are better ways to get it done. I'm just not willing to pimp out my privacy that way.

        • by Ly4 (2353328)

          > And as far as deleting backups on redundant servers, it sounds like it could be done with a few lines of code.

          You have obviously never done anything at this scale. Deleting all copies of information on a significant system is a very hard problem to solve. Demonstrating to an auditor that you've deleted everything makes it even harder.

          There's actually an entire Defense Department specification/procedure that attempts to describe how to do it: http://www.google.com/?q=DOD+5015 [google.com]

        • by JWSmythe (446288)

          This is an almost entertaining conversation. Everyone's thinking so linearly. User puts content up on Facebook. User deletes content from Facebook, It's all done.

          In reality, user puts content up on Facebook.

          Facebook compiles, refines, and disseminates that information to various other parts of the company, and to third parties. Those third parties buy and sell that information. Once it's out there, there's no taking it back.

          Facebook could ask

      • If so many people are concerned with their privacy, yet still want a Social Network; why not create your own website. Using HTML5 or whatever other fad code of today, creating your own fully linked website with interactive media is almost as easy as creating a facebook profile. With the searching power of google finding all your friends is just as easy. Chatting, use irc. facebook as brought nothing new to the area of personal web presence, except it's almost idiot-proof, and, oh yeah. FREE! Now that the du
        • Do you use Facebook? Because it should be obvious how your homemade solution would not do what people use Facebook for.

      • I find this attitude so ignorant. How does a company instantly delete backups on redundant servers? How do they delete redundant hard copies kept in closets separated by meatspace? Furthermore, if you upload something to Facebook, and someone ELSE downloads it and saves it to a CD, and you delete it off facebook, should THEY be forced to magically know you deleted it, and delete their copy as well? Does Google have to delete their caches of your facebook page? Or maybe you are saying that Facebook

      • by JAlexoi (1085785)
        Then Facebook should remove all privacy ensuring features and make everything public. Otherwise, they shouldn't collect and store any personal data.
        In short, what they have to do is remove all data that can be removed. Obviously that would exclude backups written to CDs, but not backups on easily modifiable systems. Otherwise, they are in breach of many countries privacy laws.
      • by hawguy (1600213) on Tuesday December 13, 2011 @09:34PM (#38364752)

        I find this attitude so ignorant. How does a company instantly delete backups on redundant servers? How do they delete redundant hard copies kept in closets separated by meatspace? Furthermore, if you upload something to Facebook, and someone ELSE downloads it and saves it to a CD, and you delete it off facebook, should THEY be forced to magically know you deleted it, and delete their copy as well? Does Google have to delete their caches of your facebook page? Or maybe you are saying that Facebook, Google, etc should never make backups?

        Few large companies are using tape when they already have redundant disk storage in redundant datacenters, so typically deletes happen at the speed of replication.

        But if there was interest in enforcing a non-retention policy, regulators could say that no user deleted data can be retained longer than XXX days (maybe 90 or 180 days). This gives time for off-site tape backups to be rotated back and recycled. And plenty of time for remote disk replication to occur. A smart company could think of even more clever ways to quickly and securely delete data. Maybe instead of deleting the data itself, the pointer to the data is deleted (which also holds the decryption key to decrypt that piece of data). Then once that pointer is deleted (along with any backups), the data is unrecoverable even if it's on a WORM drive.

        The truth is that once you upload something to a site like Facebook, it becomes publicly viewable and accessible and ANYONE can download it. The unfortunate truth is that you can never really UNDO that action, and no matter what arbitrary laws or draconian regulations you force companies to abide by, you can never truly take it back, even if you hit the delete key.

        That depends on where I upload it. If I upload an photo where the visibility is set to only allow my girlfriend to see it, then I delete it 2 days later, why should it be recoverable at all? I understand that she may have downloaded it and emailed it to her mother, but I trust her not to do that. So why can't I trust Facebook to not allow it to reappear later in a legal subpoena? Or to resurface 2 years later in a new "undelete" feature that makes all of my deleted content visible?

        The paradigm shift needs to be in how people view sites like Facebook, Photobucket, etc: Don't upload anything you want to keep private. If you want to keep it private, upload it to a company that guarantees your privacy... NOT Facebook.

        Why not a paradigm shift for companies that acquire personal data that requires them to protect that data.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by VortexCortex (1117377)

        I find this attitude so ignorant.

        I find you so ignorant...

        How does a company instantly delete backups on redundant servers? How do they delete redundant hard copies kept in closets separated by meatspace?

        By deleting the fucking encryption key. This shit isn't rocket surgery folks.

        Oh, it's not encrypted? WHY THE FUCK NOT? Seriously, Best Security Practices Rule #1: Don't Be Sony
        Even my Media Library's SQL metadata is encrypted. I keep that database backed up, but if I want to INSTANTLY DELETE BACKUPS THE WORLD OVER ON REDUNDANT SERVERS, I simply wipe the decryption keys. Now, if I can do this, there's really no reason for them to not be able to. If you're concerned about sc

      • by savuporo (658486)
        If you want to keep it private, upload it to a company that guarantees your privacy...

        If you actually want privacy, i'm not sure why would you use either the word of "upload" or "a company".
      • by Patch86 (1465427) on Wednesday December 14, 2011 @04:04AM (#38367160)

        It doesn't have to be deleted instantly, as long as they're making good steps to delete it. In the UK, we have data protection laws that stipulate that data must be retained for a certain period after it is no longer in use, and then must be permanently deleted after that. The vast majority of "grown up" companies (such as the big banks) are bound by this and manage to do it just fine. If Facebook can't do this, it's their problem. They shouldn't be in the data centre game if they can't abide by data protection laws properly.

        One problem is that data uploaded to Facebook is not always uploaded by the person who it concerns. There are dozens of pictures of me on Facebook, every single one of which uploaded by one of my friends or family. If one of my friends uploads a picture of me I disapprove of (a picture of my bank statement, say, with all my private data clearly visible) and I ask them nicely to remove it, I should have every expectation that the hosting company (Facebook) will not only "remove" it, but also set about deleting it in line with data protection laws. No excuses.

    • by drcheap (1897540) on Tuesday December 13, 2011 @08:32PM (#38364224) Journal

      It should be illegal for these companies to keep user generated content once the user deletes it.

      It's legal because the user agreed to let them keep it. I'm sure it's somewhere in those 6000 words nobody reads...probably something along the lines of "content uploaded by the user of the system becomes the sole property of the system" only more legalese sounding.

      • by xaxa (988988)

        It should be illegal for these companies to keep user generated content once the user deletes it.

        It's legal because the user agreed to let them keep it..

        No. No matter what Facebook say, they can't override European/Irish (in their case) law.

        I don't know the specifics of Irish law, but for example, personal data must be deleted once it is no longer needed.

      • by angel'o'sphere (80593) on Wednesday December 14, 2011 @05:32AM (#38367568) Homepage Journal

        It's legal because the user agreed to let them keep it.

        No, that is only true for the US. And I would bet it is in fact only true for the US. For Europe and that is not only the EU but nearly every country I ever heard about, this is not true. Law > "any agreement", already the fact that a company writes such a "proposal" wanting you to "agree" is arguable illegal. Nevertheless, regardless to what you agree (by checking a check box) if it is illegal by law, the agreement is void.

        Just because you americans are used to your retarded law/legal system you should not assume the rest of the world is equally backyard stuck in 1750 ...

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      If a user shares content, it belongs to everyone who it was shared with.
      Removing it because someone deleted it isn't a clear cut as people here make it seem.

    • Why, you yourself made this data available to another person the moment it was uploaded to a service you do not control.

    • by drb226 (1938360)
      That, however, is entirely contrary to the idea of the internet. The natural extension of "post anything, trust nothing" into the web 2.0 era is "don't post anything you will regret the world knowing".
  • by ackthpt (218170) on Tuesday December 13, 2011 @08:25PM (#38364142) Homepage Journal

    Sure, a flood of data looks mundane, but combing it with the right filters probably tells lots of interesting stuff, like the DNA of relationships and interests. I can only hope mine is utterly meaningless. I've tried very hard to ensure that eventuality.

  • Uh, what? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by twotacocombo (1529393) on Tuesday December 13, 2011 @08:38PM (#38364274)
    This article's summary is rather baited. I fail to see how see how this guy "learned the hard way". It's not like they rolled up with a truck and dumped reams of paper in the middle of his living room. He received a CD with files in an easily searchable format. I'm sure he knew going into it he wasn't going to read through it all in a night, and probably doesn't contain any surprises. If anything, Facebook "learned the hard way", now that they have to divulge the massive amount of data that they store, upon request, which means they must employ people to do this. Are the costs incurred outweighed by any profit produced by hoarding this particular information?
  • by kheldan (1460303) on Tuesday December 13, 2011 @08:40PM (#38364292) Journal
    ..and this is why I don't use my real name anywhere online that I can possibly get away with it, or use any personally-identifiable information about me on any social networking. Enjoy your false, worthless data, Facebook.
  • by Bucky24 (1943328) on Tuesday December 13, 2011 @08:54PM (#38364390)
    "Facebook, it seems, doesn't think much of the Delete key and continued to hold copies of the data on its servers."

    This really shouldn't come as a surprise for anyone here.
  • Not that uncommon (Score:5, Interesting)

    by james_van (2241758) on Tuesday December 13, 2011 @08:59PM (#38364448)
    I've worked for a number of tech companies that dont actually delete anything, the simply mark the record "deleted" in the database. It's a pretty common practice that didn't really ever get talked about until it came to light that Facebook did it. Let's face it, once something is out there, it never ever really goes away, whether it be on Facebook or somewhere else,
    • by Trepidity (597) <delirium-slashdot@h a c k i sh.org> on Tuesday December 13, 2011 @09:26PM (#38364690)

      Except for the company's own data, of course: then they manage to remember how to really delete data, e.g. old emails after N days, so that no future nosey prosecutor can dig it out of the database.

    • My database has a "not deleted" field instead. And when I mark it "deleted" I set it to zero. It's called the profile_enc_key field. Furthermore, I don't back up this key along with the other records. It's kept in a separate database that's still retrievable and redundant, yet easy to zero out when it comes time to do so.

      There are two types of companies in this world: Those that learned from Sony's mistakes, and those that will make the same ones themselves.

      Gentlemen, We have the technology... The

  • ...if it had talked about this story before to know that it did already:

    http://yro.slashdot.org/story/11/11/16/0239232/facebook-holding-back-personal-data [slashdot.org]

    And yes, it links TFAs that mention this story already.
    • Try to write down everything you know about yourself.
    • How many pages did you fill
    • less then 1200?
    • repeat

    Now ask yourself one question: might 1.2k pages not be a little bit excessive after all?

  • 1200 PDF pages does not necessarily mean 1200 pages of useful data. What kind of format is it in? One line for every thing he liked? Are there lines of XML tags around everything? Are his friends posts to him part of 'his' personal data in these files?

    Not that I expect Facebook to make it nice and presentable to this guy. He got his data dump and Facebook is now putting the onus on him to sort through it and raise any further requests.
  • Social networking sites and search engines are used for data collection and data mining. I've been telling people for years that their activity will be monitored, captured and tracked yet people sre still willing to tradeoff their privacy for convenience. Ignorance knows no bounds.
  • by Anachragnome (1008495) on Tuesday December 13, 2011 @10:07PM (#38364944)

    I'm more interested in seeing the CD contents of someone that has never intentionally used Facebook--someone like me.

  • by tbird81 (946205) on Wednesday December 14, 2011 @02:50AM (#38366860)

    What format did he expect it in? Is he pissed off he had to download a PDF reader or something? I think it seems reasonable.

    Also, who do you think gave Facebook this information in the first place? The same douchebag who wasted their time ordering the info. I hope they billed him for their time.

  • by g0bshiTe (596213) on Wednesday December 14, 2011 @10:46AM (#38369688)
    What steps or rather how difficult it was to get them to produce that information. I'd particularly be interested to know how they verified the person requesting the data was actually him.

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