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Facebook ditches New Year Eve Message app amid privacy concerns

In yet another blow to the social media site, Facebook today decided to suspend its Midnight Message Delivery App after it was discovered that a student had inadvertently been able to read private messages intended for other users. The student was also able to delete these messages after reading them.

Photo Credit: Dominic Lipinski/PA

Photo Credit: Dominic Lipinski/PA

Jack Jenkins, who is studying IT and Business at Aberystwyth university, informed Facebook to the flaw in their Midnight Message service, after he found out that by merely tweaking the web address provided, he was allowed access which then let him view messages and photos sent by strangers using the new tool.

The Midnight Message Delivery App was a special service set up by Facebook as a way for users to message their friends, via the social network, at the stroke of midnight on New Year’s Eve. If Jenkins had not informed Facebook of the glitch, many users would now have access to personal messages and photographs by complete strangers. The student was so shocked about the failure of the app, that he wrote on his personal blog to share with other users: “I just wanted to share this. I don’t know how a site like Facebook can continue to take these kinds of risks. PLEASE Don’t go deleting random messages, but try and delete one of mine that I set up especially if you want.”

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The Midnight Message Delivery app was then immediately deleted by Facebook after Jenkins published his blog, and as of now, no further apps have been made available. It is thought that only messages sent via the special Midnight Message Delivery app were affected, as these existed on a separate Facebook Stories website, and that no messages sent on the Facebook site itself were viewable.

A Facebook spokesman said: “We are working on a fix for this issue now, and in the interim we have disabled this app on the Facebook Stories site to ensure that no messages can be accessed.”

This is yet another set back for Facebook as just days earlier, founder of the social media site – Mark Zuckerberg’s sister complained that her own privacy had been invaded when a private family photo was shared widely by a US journalist.Clipboard02

The picture featured Randi Zuckerberg’s family’s reaction to Facebook’s new Poke app and subsequently reappeared in a news feed of Callie Schweitzer of Vox Media who then assumed it was public and reposted it on Twitter. From Twitter it was then reposted by several prominent technology blogs.

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