Potential Consequences of Facebook Source Code Leak

Posted Aug 11, 2007

The source code of Facebook.com just leaked[1].  This definetely does not bode well for Zuckerberg and his Facebookies considering the net worth of the source code at hand.  Some say that Facebook is valued at well over $2 billion.  But this is not the first case I’ve heard where a company has lost their application code to leakages.

Microsoft has had similar problems.  On February 12, 2004, CNET posted an article[2] mentioning that Microsoft is investigating Windows 2000 source code leakages in chat rooms and underground web sites.  While the source code of Facebook was not completely revealed, there was enough to do some damage.  The damage is that the algorithms that make the site move through functions swiftly was revealed.  That is grounds enough for developers (who can make sense of the code) to replicate similar strategies for their on web sites.

“For instance, the structure doesnâ??t follow any object oriented development practices, and it seems that the application is one large PHP file with a large number of custom functions living in the same namespace (they also seem to be using the Smarty templating engine),” wrote Nik Cubrilovic of TechCrunch.

How much damage is caused here financially, I cannot say.  Nor can I confirm whether this code is real or if it is a dud.  If it is real, the consequences are irreversible.  I wouldn’t be surprised if Facebook revamps their source code.  I think I can speak for Facebook when I say that they don’t need this mess happening especially with a pending lawsuit from ConnectU.

[update]: Response from Facebook staff.  Note comment #29 on TechCrunch story:
Brandee Barker
August 11th, 2007 at 9:04 pm
Hi Nic-I wanted to clarify a few things in your story. Some of Facebookâ??s source code was exposed to a small number of users due to a bug on a single server that was misconfigured and then fixed immediately. It was not a security breach and did not compromise user data in any way. The reprinting of this code violates several laws and we ask that people not distribute it further.Thanks to you and the TC readers for helping us out on this one.

Brandee Barker

[1] TechCrunch: Facebook Source Code Leaked
[2] CNET: Microsoft probes Windows code leak