A Harvard student named Aran Khanna lost an internship position with Facebook because he created a Google Chrome extension that pointed out a major privacy flaw in the site.
The tool, called Marauder’s Map, used location data gathered through Messenger’s Android app. Though many users didn’t know it, Messenger shared detailed location information whenever a message was sent. Khanna’s program simply grabbed that data and charted it, showing a clear and scary map that was able to closely track users in real time—and in the real world.
“I decided to write this extension, because we are constantly being told how we are losing privacy with the increasing digitization of our lives, however the consequences never seem tangible,” he wrote at the time.
However, his actions would have consequences. Within three days of creating the extension, he had lost his internship with the company, and within nine days, Facebook updated its location sharing in Messenger. At first, Khanna said that Facebook told him he lost his position because he had scraped the site for data, but when he countered by telling them that he’d only used publicly available data, the site said he’d actually violated Facebook’s “high ethical standards” with his post describing the tool.
Even though Khanna lost his internship position and seemingly got screwed over by Facebook, at least something good came out of the whole ordeal: Facebook finally updated its location tracking capabilities on Messenger.