Student reprimands Facebook for bad manners and exposed code

Rebuke comes amid new leak of purported Facebook code


A recent college grad is taking credit for the disclosure of Facebook's proprietary source code in an episode that demonstrates just how porous Web 2.0 technology can be.

His warning, which also included a rebuke for bad manners at Facebook, came as a second batch of purported Facebook code surfaced online, raising new questions about security at the social networking site.

According to 23-year-old Trae McNeely, a graduate in information studies from the the University of Oklahoma, the episode started early last weekend when he logged in to his Facebook account to check for new messages.

"What was supposed to be the home page with all the events and what's going on, there sat a bunch of code," he told El Reg. "I said, 'Whoa!'"

McNeely copied the code and pasted it to WMDTalk, a site he runs to discuss online movies, and then he submitted the link to Digg. "It might not be worth much but it's insight into facebook and how it works," he wrote in the submission.

The post got only six Diggs, but it nonetheless received the attention of a Facebook attorney who promptly sent McNeely an email claiming his posting infringed Facebook copyrights and requesting he remove the code.

And that gives rise to the first point McNeely has derived from the event. To wit: The site ought to be more polite.

"It sounds like it was written by a young, 20-year-old trying to use legal mumbo jumbo to make me take the code down," McNeely complained of the email. After all, Facebook forced the code down his throat. "This showed up on my browser. I didn't hack into their server. I'm in the clear."

Despite his belief that he was probably under no legal requirement to remove the code, McNeely did just that, having expunged the post at exactly 2:10, Oklahoma time, on Saturday afternoon. But the gesture also came with a little finger wagging.

"Listen, let me give you some advice," McNeely responded in an email to the attorney. "Next time respond more cordially because you, most likely, are not authorized to practice law in any fashion in any jurisdiction. If I hear anymore crap from you guys I'll sue for harassment."

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