Facebook developed ‘Stalker, Dark Profiles’ says ex-employee in new book

A new book by a former employee of social networking website Facebook claims that the company allegedly developed an experimental feature called "Dark Profiles", which would give secret accounts to people who did not even sign up. Reports indicate that engineers wanted to create shadow pages for those who were tagged in photos by their friends in the hope they would cave in and join the social networking website, Katherine Losse, the author of 'The Boy Kings: A Journey into the Heart of the Social Network', said. Losse worked for Facebook between 2005 and 2010, and worked her way up from customer relations to be the speechwriter for Zuckerberg, as per a report by the Daily Mail.

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She claimed that in Autumn 2006 everyone at the company was "so convinced that Facebook was something that everyone should have that when the product team created an experimental feature called dark profiles in 2006, nobody even flinched". “People can be tagged in Facebook photos even if they do not have a profile, and the idea was to create a 'dark' version which could apparently be activated if they finally signed up,” the report reads.

This confirms for the first time that Facebook has a programme called "Facebook Stalker" which lets them track who has been visiting their profiles, the reported stated. Besides this, the book also claims that in 2007 Facebook technicians worked on a programme called "Judgebox", which would let users compare and rate women in echoes of founder Mark Zuckerberg's sexist "Facemash" app he developed at Harvard. Moreover, the book alleges that in the early days of the social networking website, employees were given the 'master' password with no security checks at all and were allowed to do as they pleased.

Rumours have long circulated of a feature which allows you to see who exactly has visited your profile, and in her book Losse confirms that it does - but only for Facebook staff. She said that to her surprise ‘Facebook Stalker’, as they called it, showed that her female friends spend longer on her profile than her male friends, the report stated.


Losse also claims that female workers at the social network company were propositioned for threesomes and faced insults. "The company's entire human resources architecture was constructed on the reactionary model of an office from the 1950s in which men with so-called masculine qualities (being technical, breaking things, moving fast) was idealised as brilliant and visionary, whilst everyone else (particularly the non-technical employees on the customer support team who were mostly female and sometime, unlike the white and Asian engineering team, black) were assumed to be duller, incapable of quick and intelligent thought. It was like Mad Men but real and happening the current moment, as if in repudiation of fifty years of social progress," Losse wrote.

The social networking site recently sparked a backlash after it automatically changed all of its users’ e-mail addresses to its own service. All 900 million users' e-mails were switched to an @facebook.com e-mail ID. Consequently, the site was accused of 'hijacking' users' contact details and deleting their personal email addresses without asking them first. The Daily Mail reports that Facebook is still reeling from its bungled IPO, which wiped a third off of its value and sparked a $3 billion lawsuit from investors.

The claims in the book will raise fresh questions about a ruling by Ireland’s Data Protection Commission last year that Facebook was not collecting profiles for non-users. The Internet regulator had claimed in a complaint that Facebook was harvesting data from people without an account such as names, phone numbers and email addresses, the report reads.

Published Date: Jun 29, 2012 01:59 pm | Updated Date: Jun 29, 2012 01:59 pm