US ‘Spam King’ Arrested for Hacking 500,000 Facebook accounts

Wall of spam cans
Spam Wall by Freezelight (Flickr)

Sanford Wallace, also know by his nickname “Spam King”, surrendered to FBI agents in Las Vegas on Thursday, he was charged in  San Jose with six counts of fraud with electronic mail, three counts of intentional damage to a protected computer and one count of criminal contempt.

Sanford Wallace had allegedly sent more than 27 million spam messages by compromising the friend lists of 500,000 Facebook accounts and stole personal information between November 2008 and March 2009.

Prosecutors say Wallace found a way to evade Facebook’s spam filter then automated a method to farm friend lists and post messages. Wallace was also believed to have collected email addresses and passwords for Facebook accounts using a deceptive method then sending them to a affiliate website where Wallace was paid for the users he redirected.

Sam O’Rourke updated a October 2009 post about spamming titled “The Fight Goes On“, saying “we applaud the efforts of the U.S. Attorney’s Office and the FBI to bring spammers to justice and will continue to pursue and support both civil and criminal consequences for spammers and others who attempt to harm Facebook or the people who use our service. ”

Facebook has previously won $711 million in damages in 2009 from Sanford Wallace though he previously filed for bankruptcy. MySpace also filed a suit in 2007 after the spammer created 11,000 fake profiles to direct websites to questionable content.

Will Privacy Settings Help Google+ Beat Facebook?

Just May last year, more than 30,000 disgruntled users committed to end their Facebook account en-masse on Quit Facebook Day. ‘For us it comes down to two things: fair choices and best intentions. In our view, Facebook doesn’t do a good job in either department,’ the website owners told fans. Later they compared quitting Facebook similar to quitting cigarettes, humorously adding ‘having peer support helps, but the way to quit Facebook is not to start a group on Facebook about leaving Facebook.’

Meanwhile, Diaspora secured more than $200,000 of funding using Kickstarter for what they call ‘the privacy aware, personally controlled, do-it-all distributed open source social network,’ the group is yet to hit a stable release as of July 2011. In response, to all the media coverage of privacy policy, Facebook simplified privacy controls and made certain changes easier (though the memory of this event is still engraved in the back of many minds).

Though, Facebook allows users to download their account information, Facebook makes it hard to exit. Users must wait for two weeks in a ‘deactivation’ period, after these weeks the account is ‘permanently deleted from Facebook.’ Google already has a much easier system for users exiting services which have carried over to Google+.  One of the projects undertaken at Google is The Data Liberation Front, which allows users to easily exit from Google services. In a video (see above), a staff member says ‘we believe that if we make it easy for you to leave Google, we have to work just that much harder to make sure that you don’t want to.’

The very foundation that Google+ was built on is also very different from Facebook. Google+ makes uses of grouping friends (Circles), while most Facebook users don’t categorize friends using lists. By using Circles, the theory is that the information you want to share with your work friends , the people you meet at clubs and old school buddies are different.

Facebook still can make changes to better improve their friend list function to make it more visible but Google+ may just be the social network alternative that users are looking for.

Symantec: Facebook Applications ‘Accidentally Leaking Access’

Privacy settings in Facebook Apps

An official blog post from Symantec Corporation says that 100,000 Facebook applications were inadvertently leaking user information. Nishant Doshi, the writer of the blog post for Symantec, said that in the span of a few years ‘hundreds of thousands of applications may have inadvertently leaked millions of access tokens to third parties.’

Access tokens are used on Facebook so an application can interact with your user page, allowing permission to publish content and ‘likes’ to your wall and stream that is visible to friends, photographs, chat and other personal profile details. The leak is blamed on legacy Facebook API and using certain parameters in the redirect code.

Doshi said ‘Facebook was notified of this issue and has confirmed this leakage. Facebook notified us of changes on their end to prevent these tokens from getting leaked,’ confirming the issue has been corrected.

Users Flee Myspace, Facebook on the Rise

Myspace Website

Myspace has lost 14.4% of its user-base in one month from January to February 2011 according to comScore statistics. MySpace has plummeted from 73 million visitors to 63 million visitors.

Earlier this year,  MySpace had announced nearly halving its workforce leaving 500 people without a job. News Corp. purchased MySpace for $580 million in 2005 near the height of MySpace’s popularity which enjoyed a nearly 200% increase in views from 2005 to 2006.

Facebook overtook its social networking competitor, Myspace, as early as April 2008 according to comScore statistics and MySpace seems to be unable to regain its winning formula (and users).More than 50% of internet users in the United States of America aged over 12 years old are connected on Facebook, according to Edison Research in a 2,020 persons survey.

Press Enter to Comment Debuts on Facebook

Image representing Facebook as depicted in Cru...
Image via CrunchBase

Facebook has released two minor change to its commenting system, allowing just one hit of the ‘enter’ key and the quick editing of deleted comments. The new system for commenting will allow for faster updates similar to all instant messaging systems with the press of the ‘enter’ key.

To create a new line in the commenting system use Shift-Enter, don’t worry if you can’t remember it as instructions are below the commenting box. Another slight change is with the deletion of comments, when comments are deleted the text is copied into the comment box allowing for quick editing and submission.

 

Do you like these changes? Comment below.