Was hacking of Facebook CEO an entry in the Facebook Hacker Cup?
Mark Zuckerberg, the founder of Facebook and subject of the Oscar-nominated The Social Network, on Tuesday declared that he would like to see his company turned into a charity that would hand over its profits to worthy causes.
If that sounds too good -- or too bizarre -- to be true, it turned out it was. Zuckerberg's fan page was reportedly the victim of an attack by a hacker working to spread the word about social businesses.
The security breach has some Facebook users wondering how well their personal info is being safeguarded, if even the company's billionaire boss can't keep his account protected.
In a status update Tuesday, someone writing under Zuckerberg's name declared: "Let the hacking begin: If Facebook needs money, instead of going to the banks, why doesn’t Facebook let its users invest in Facebook in a social way? Why not transform Facebook into a ‘social business’ the way Nobel Price winner Muhammad Yunus described it [sic]?"
The posting links to a Wikipedia page on the subject of "social business," a corporate model that envisions companies' earning power being harnessed for the benefit of a social cause. A social business would work to make profits like any company, but all profit that's not paid back to investors would be donated to a particular cause.
The posting also featured a tag to Facebook Hacker Cup 2011, a hacking competition underway this month on Facebook. It wasn't clear whether the hack was meant to be an entry in the competition.
Privacy issues have dogged Facebook for years, with many experts saying the website doesn't do enough to protect users' privacy, especially from the prying eyes of third-party app developers.
Last week, after announcing it would allow third-party app developers to access Facebook users' home addresses and cell phone numbers, the company quickly backtracked, delaying the plans.
"We are making changes to help ensure you only share this information when you intend to do so," a Facebook spokesperson said.
Facebook's new, integrated instant-message service has also been criticized for security flaws.
"Users also need to be aware that Facebook will be storing a complete archive of all their communications with one person. This raises concerns as to how this data could be misused if it fell into the wrong hands," security firm Sophos said.
To be fair, the idea of Zuckerberg dedicating his iconic firm to charity is not entirely out of the realm of the possible. Last month, he joined 16 other billionaires in pledging to donate half his wealth to charity -- a move for which he earned the ire of the libertarian Ayn Rand Center.