Today I read an interesting article written by an educated and clearly smart Gen Y: What I Learned When I Lost My Internship at Facebook9v. In this article, he details his story as to what happened to cause him to lose his internship. In a nutshell, he coded and released “the Marauder’s Map extension, a plugin that allowed users of the Facebook Messenger app to see the geolocations of the people they were messaging.” He thought that his pro-active spirit aligned with what he described as the Facebook ‘hacker culture’. Also, he hadn’t actually hacked anything, he rather used data that was already openly available.
So what’s the problem?
Aran Khanna (the Harvard student) also had taken a class on privacy and technology where he learned to question technology and the role in peoples’ lives. He posted a discussion question on a site, as to whether or not the open sharing of someone’s personal location was a feature or a privacy issue. To make this story a little shorter: his post spread quickly, Facebook noticed and Facebook rescinded his internship before he even started.
What’s there to learn?
To learn the answer to above question about technology and privacy, read the article. Rather, I want to comment on what struck me about this article as it relates to the Gen Y cohort:
- It might be easy to say he made a mistake and should have known better. I don’t agree, he was following what he believed were already the fundamental principles of Facebook, the very principles on which that company was founded. Perhaps what he didn’t realise is that even companies that start as radical, innovative or game changing start-ups, eventually have to exist within the world of laws and regulations.
- The entrepreneurial/innovative character of Gen Ys. Because this generation has witnessed the likes of Zuckerberg, they believe that they too can be the next Zuckerberg, whether in technology or not. Organizations and leaders need to learn how to harness this characteristic because, for Gen Ys, age is not a barrier to making things happen.