MySpace Bug Leaks 'Private' Teen Photos to Voyeurs

A backdoor in MySpace's architecture allows anyone who's interested to see the photographs of some users with private profiles -- including those under 16 -- despite assurances from MySpace that those pictures can only be seen by people on a user's friends list. Info about the backdoor has been circulating on message boards for months. Since the glitch emerged last fall, it has spawned a cottage industry of ad-supported websites that make it easy to access the photographs, spurring self-described pedophiles and run-of-the-mill voyeurs to post photos pilfered from private MySpace accounts.

The bug, and its long-term survival, raises new questions about privacy on the News Corp.-owned site, even as it touts a deal with the attorneys general of 49 states meant to polish its online-safety image. "If kids are doing what they think they need to do, and are still having their photos picked up by slimebags on the internet ... then these are serious issues," said Parry Aftab, executive director of WiredSafety.org, a children's-online-safety group. "It's a matter of trust and it's a matter of safety." (WiredSafety is not connected to Wired News or Wired magazine.) Representatives for MySpace did not return Wired News phone calls Thursday. The flaw exposes MySpace users who set their profiles to "private" -- the default setting for users under 16 -- even though MySpace's account settings page tells users, "Only the people you select will be able to view your full profile and photos."

Clicking on the photo link on a private profile gives unauthorized users this message: "This profile is set to private. This user must add you as a friend to see his/her profile." But anyone -- even those without a MySpace account -- can plug the target's public account number, called a "Friend ID," into a specially constructed URL that grants access to those photos.

The only users safe from the exploit are those who have explicitly configured their MySpace photo galleries (and not just their overall profiles) to be private.

View: Full Story @ Wired

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16 Comments

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"Oh my god! Pictures of children getting leaked! Stop... MySpace!"

There are at least two things wrong here to me...

1. The overzealous "protect the children" thing. This may only be bad (and usually isn't even then, of course) if the child in question also announce where he/she lives or other personal details. Otherwise, it's no worse than this: http://flickr.com/search/?q=teen+beach&z=t (or this, cover your eyes now! http://flickr.com/search/?z=t&q=children+beach&m=text ) So it's more of a question of how the kid provide other personal information in combination with this, not really about the pictures per se.

2. It's not really MySpace's problem to enforce #1 above.

Only people I see hurting are the ones who dress like sluts, in which case you should keep your slutty pictures off the damn internet.

I don't understand the pedophilia part though, as they can get pictures of any underage kids from anywhere. However, to get pictures of underage kids POSING in little clothing is only the fault of that child and the child's parents for letting their teen put pictures of that nature onto the internet.

Pedo's are still sick f---ks though, don't get me wrong. I just think some responsibility relies on the user, and the parents of the users to know better and to also not rely on "MySpace" to protect them.

I actually agree with this. I think that in situations like this, some of the responsibility lies with the users/parents. They should not be relying on a wesbite to be able to protect their privacy. And they should be more responsible about putting up "questionable content" on a public website. A rule of thumb, if you don't want everyone on the internet to possibly have access to it then don't post it on a public website.

voidpharoh said,
I actually agree with this. I think that in situations like this, some of the responsibility lies with the users/parents. They should not be relying on a wesbite to be able to protect their privacy. And they should be more responsible about putting up "questionable content" on a public website. A rule of thumb, if you don't want everyone on the internet to possibly have access to it then don't post it on a public website.

I too must concur. If parents would start being responsible adults like they should and actually play a role in their child's life rather than letting the entertainment world (computers, tv, video games, etc) babysit it wouldn't be so bad.

Ah, the parenting issue. The epidemic of the world that lies behind many other problems. If it's not lack of attention, it's physical/sexual/emotional abuse. Hell, I can't tell you how many "bully" type people growing up had parents who were divorced, never home, or... worse.

Of course, that's not saying all children of bad parenting don't grow up to be at least half decent. I was one of them, and I turned out okay (I think?). :confused:

Sad part of it is that it's not one of those issues like poverty where you can just through money at the problem. Hell, finding a child that's willing to talk about the issues at home is hard enough.

Considering that MySpace is a wasteland of child predators and attention-starved teenagers this shouldn't be "news" to anyone. You want a headline? Try this:

Teen Discovers Amazing Ability To Maintain Privacy...Keeps Photos, Contact Information Off MySpace

"... spurring self-described pedophiles and run-of-the-mill voyeurs to post photos..."

Self-described pedophiles? You mean some of them go around advertising it?