Marauders map

A Chrome browser extension developed by a Harvard College computer science student allows people to pinpoint và trachồng the location of Facebook Messenger users.

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The extension – called Marauders Map after the magical chart from the Harry Potter books that reveals the location of every person within Hogwarts School – works by scooping up the location data of Facebook Messenger users & plotting it on a bản đồ.


That Facebook has that data at its disposal is probably no surprise, but the ease with which it can be extracted from the social network, & the accuracy with which it can track someone – lớn within just one metre – may comes as a shochồng.

Even developer Aran Khanna concedes that such accurate tracking is “a bit weird,” saying via Medium that:

The first thing I noticed when I started lớn write my code was that the latitude and longitude coordinates of the message locations have more than 5 decimal places of precision, making it possible to pinpoint the sender"s location khổng lồ less than a meter.

To prove his own point, Khanna used Marauders Map to lớn traông chồng one of his brother’s friends for a couple of weeks.


Even though he himself doesn’t know the Stanford student all that well, they are friends on Facebook, và so Khanmãng cầu was able lớn use his target’s frequent use of the messaging service to work out his weekly routine.

Khanmãng cầu was also able to determine where his casual acquaintance ended up at night, deducing not only exactly which dorm he slept in, but also which room.

Would-be stalkers will be even more overjoyed to hear that Khanmãng cầu was able lớn collect enough location data khổng lồ be able lớn start making predictions as khổng lồ where his brother’s friover would be at any point during the week:

By gathering a couple weeks" worth of chat data on the bản đồ & looking at the location clusters you can even figure out his weekly schedule. With this you can predict exactly which building he would be in at a given time.

In fact I found that I could infer a schedule for almost everyone in this chat as well as the other active chats I am in.

After experimenting further, Khanna soon realised that he didn’t even need to lớn be Facebook friends to be able lớn traông xã another user – simply being engaged in the same messaging thread was sufficient.

Khanmãng cầu said that when he shared his findings with other people the overwhelming response was one of either surprise or disgust; everyone he spoke lớn was shocked at how much of their personal data was available to lớn their friends và casual chat partners alike.

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The root problem here of course is the fact that the sharing of location data is switched on by mặc định.

Added to the fact that it is not clear that such data is being shared by Facebook Messenger – you need to cliông xã on the sent message to lớn see it – & it is hardly surprising that many users have sầu no idea what they are broadcasting khổng lồ their friends, acquaintances và potential stalkers.

Although Marauders Map can still be added to Chrome, it is unlikely khổng lồ remain functional, according to the Guardian, which reports that its API key has been revoked by Mapbox, a mapping platsize from which the extension was developed.

But Khanna – who will be starting an internship at Facebook next month – has made the source code available via Github, meaning it could be picked up và modified by other developers.

So you might like to lớn take this opportunity to disable location sharing on Facebook Messenger (you can disable it on a message by message basis but it’s tricky lớn always remember to vì chưng that!):

Disabling location tracking on iOS

Firstly, go khổng lồ Settings, then Privacy &, finally, cliông xã on Location Services. Here you will see a danh sách of every installed app that is capable of logging your location.

From this danh mục, find Facebook Messenger và ensure it says ‘Never’ next to lớn it. If it doesn’t, cliông chồng on the appropriate entry và change it so it does.

It’s also worth checking all the other iOS apps listed under Location Services to see if you *really* need them to lớn be tracking your location.

Disabling location tracking on Android

Unfortunately for Android users, Google has not provided the same per-ứng dụng cấp độ of privacy control.

Instead, users are (for now at least), at the mercy of phầm mềm developers & their ability to lớn code in the means khổng lồ disable location sharing.

As far as Facebook Messenger goes, this means opening the tiện ích, clicking on the Settings ibé & then finding the “New messages include your location by default” field. Next khổng lồ that is a checkbox – untick it.

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Now may also be a good time to review other privacy & security settings associated with your Facebook tài khoản – check out our 5 tips to make your Facebook tài khoản safer.

Chuyên mục: Tin Tức