In the last several months, user privacy concerns on websites have come to the forefront. The continuous news of websites being hacked and information being stolen may be one of the reasons why. Another reason may be because of the “Marauder’s Map” app controversy that would reveal the location of a member if they sent you a Facebook message. Whatever the reasoning, many have seen the need to revisit popular sites and review their policies. That has happened with the most popular auction site in the world, Ebay.
Recently, the national morning television show, Good Morning America, decided to do an investigation. By logging in and placing a 1$ bid on several items, GMA was able to request a seller’s information and receive that information immediately. Though the seller’s actual address was not released, their name, phone number, city and state were. The GMA staff was able to get the address of the seller in less than a minute.
Though sellers on Ebay do agree to the terms and conditions that outline this practice, many are not aware this happens currently. Ebay’s original intent in this case was to provide better communication between the buyer and seller. However, over the years, the online landscape has changed. With information so easily accessible, it is not hard to see how this feature could go horribly wrong.
Imagine struggling families just trying to make some extra money on Ebay, only to have their data easily obtained. The worst part is, this is not hacked information, but information that was freely provided by the company. All a would-be thief would have to do is enter in fake data, and they could obtain your real data. That information could lead to potential harm in many different ways.
Given this investigation, Good Morning America contacted Ebay for a comment or explanation. Of course, Ebay declined to comment, but released a document that stated with the trillions of transactions they have had, they were unaware of any malfeasance. That answer is not surprising by Ebay, because to admit wrongdoing would mean they were aware there was an issue.
However, the statement continued, “due to the low usage of this functionality, we’ll soon be removing that feature.” Despite the reasoning, Ebay is seeing to it that the functionality is being removed. No matter what excuse they give, the timing of this move is a bit too coincidental for our liking. Still, in the modern age of business, it seems there is still power in a good old fashioned exposé.