London: The personal details of 100 million Facebook users have been collected and published on the Internet by a security consultant.
A list has been complied by Ron Bowles, who used a piece of code to scan Facebook profiles, and collect date not hidden by the user`s privacy settings.
The downloadable file contains the URL of every searchable Facebook user`s profile, their name and unique ID, and Bowles said he published the data to highlight privacy issues.
On the Pirate Bay, the world`s biggest file-sharing website, the list was being distributed and downloaded by more than 1,000 users, and it has spread rapidly across the net.
Facebook issued a statement saying that the information in the list was already freely available online.
"People who use Facebook own their information and have the right to share only what they want, with whom they want, and when they want," a news channel quoted the statement as reading.
"In this case, information that people have agreed to make public was collected by a single researcher and already exists in Google, Bing, other search engines, as well as on Facebook.
"No private data is available or has been compromised," the statement concluded.
But Simon Davies from the watchdog Privacy International said that Facebook had been given ample warning that something like this would happen and that it should have taken measures to prevent it.
"It is inconceivable that a firm with hundreds of engineers couldn``t have imagined a trawl of this magnitude and there``s an argument to be heard that Facebook have acted with negligence," he said.
Davies also added that the trawl of data fed into "the confusion of the privacy settings", and that the default settings should be changed.
"This highlights the argument for a higher level of privacy and proves the case for default nondisclosure," he stated.
"There are going to be a lot of angry and concerned people right now who be wondering who has their data and what they should do," he added.