Facebook seeks out interns that are skilled at developing innovative apps, but Harvard student Aran Khanna had his internship withdrawn from the company over the creation of an app.


In May, Khanna created the Chrome extension “Marauders Map” soon after accepting an internship at Facebook; the app can track people’s locations when they use the website’s messaging feature. Khanna started spreading the news of his extension on Reddit which led to thousands of downloads. When word reached Facebook that Khanna was behind Marauders Map, the student had his internship opportunity taken away.


Facebook Marauder's Map


The social media company has since been under fire for ending the Harvard student’s internship, after Khanna said he created the app to highlight the privacy issues using “data that was already there.” Khanna is seen as a hero by many people for exposing this privacy concern; was Facebook really in the wrong for terminating his internship?


Instead of going to his superiors with this issue, Khanna allowed thousands of people to take advantage of Facebook users’ personal data. It’s likely that Khanna could have kept his job if he would have presented the flaw to the company, rather than releasing the app to the public. Facebook’s spokesman, Matt Steinfeld, stated the reason behind Khanna’s termination was that he violated Facebook’s terms and services by collecting user’s data through automated means without the company’s permission.


“We don’t dismiss employees for exposing privacy flaws, but we do take it seriously when someone misuses user data and puts people at risk,” said Steinfeld.


Facebook hasn’t completely dismantled the ability to find a user’s location using the messenger app. However, the social media company has since released an update to their app, and Facebook has promised that it gives users “full control over when and how you share your location information.”  


Did Facebook make the right decision withdrawing Khanna’s internship? Should Facebook get rid of the ability to track someone’s location, even with the user’s permission? Leave a comment or talk to me on Twitter @Karbowski_Devon.