Facebook Leaks Are Unreliable

Posted by Daeity On Thursday, November 10, 2011

Resumes, blogs, Twitter, and LinkedIn have been proven to be a great source of information on (confirmed) leaks.. but apparently Facebook is not a reliable source of information.

I've never used Facebook before for sleuthing, but apparently that's the opinion of many. Blizzard employees (Zarhym, Bashiok, and Rob Pardo) and many many others found it laughable and ridiculous that Facebook could ever be used as a reliable source of information.

"pretty sad how if someone makes a facebook post to their friends how it can turn into rampant internet rumors about mass lay-offs lol"
Is it really that far fetched though?

I would assume that Facebook would be just as reliable as any resume, profile site, blog, Twitter, LinkedIn, or Wikipedia entry. What's different about Facebook though, is that it's an open forum with your friends and family, you feel more comfortable, and you're more likely to be honest with your feelings and thoughts. After all, how many people have been fired for saying something on their FB profile that they shouldn't have? How many people, upon being fired or breaking up with their S.O., login immediately to their Facebook profile to update their status?

Look at Cameron Dayton's Twitter and LinkedIn slips about Titan for example. Two mistakes on two separate profile sites. TOD even warned Blizzard and other developers about FB profiles specifically. Where do you think many of his (fully confirmed, mind you) leaks and discoveries came from over the past year? :)
"On a related note, if you're in the game development field: get rid of your entire global internet footprint. You shouldn't have a Twitter account, a blog, a YouTube account, participate in any forums, play online games with people you don't know, share art or pictures, take pictures within your workplace and post them online, have a Facebook account, share details with OPEN Facebook accounts, or even have a Google account w/out making sure your Docs and Buzz are completely disabled. I don't even know where to get started.. I know way too much now."
Facebook profiles with high resolution pictures taken at work.. showing LCD monitors and whiteboards in the background.. with concept art, gaming design flow charts, and in-game images. Yeah.. Facebook photos alone can't be used as a reliable source of intel.

I don't know if any lay offs have happened, or how many, all I know is that Blizzard said that the "majority" of names listed on the blog entry were still employed with Blizzard. (Tweeted when about half the names were listed by the way.)
Zarhym: The vast majority named in that article are at work today. FB profiles can't be used to confirm anything, especially a mass trend
There are 3 ways an organization can respond to questions: Confirm, deny, or no comment. Blizzard's official policy is "no comment", but they didn't in this case which is highly unusual. And, there was no denial of multiple lay offs at Blizzard. They only said that the wild speculation and rumors were untrue (e.g. rumors of 1000 people being laid off are untrue). Tom Chilton recently did the same.. the wild speculation and rumors about Mists of Pandaria were also untrue. :) And, has anyone forgotten that Blizzard lost 10% of their subscribers.. but yet are still employing the same quantity of support staff?

So how about Facebook though.. is it a good place for leaks or reliable information?

Well, let's check. Hmm.. Assassin's Creed Revelations was recently leaked on Facebook. Dishonored gaming details were leaked on FB (Magazine cover scan) too. Killzone 3 gaming videos.. MW3 gaming details.. DNF concept art and screenshots.. hundreds of car concepts leaked, new technology or gadget concept art and hardware specs, iPad apps, concept drawings on new gaming systems, studio clips of songs and upcoming albums leaked, Facebook leaking its own code, leaked names of violent offenders, accused underage murderers, pictures of murder scenes, murder investigations, communications between violent groups or individuals, celebrity personal details leaked.. holy crap, there are a lot of legitimate leaks and investigations into Facebook.

Even the Israeli military called off a raid in Palestinian territory after a soldier posted details on Facebook about the time and place of their raid.

Al Jazeera reporters use it, investigations by CNN, Reuters, Washington Post, etc. Even NPR finds it an "invaluable" source of information.
“There hasn’t been any query that we haven’t gotten good sources for,” Peralta said. From finding high school dropouts to people who have recently been laid off from their jobs, Peralta said the organization regularly posts inquiries for sources as status updates on its page and receives hundreds of valuable responses.
It doesn't end there. Even Governments and authorities use it as a reliable source of information.
"Government authorities rely on Facebook to investigate crimes and obtain evidence to help establish a crime, provide location information, establish motives, prove and disprove alibis, and reveal communications."
It all depends on the data, who wrote the data, and what they wrote or did.

I think Facebook it's about as reliable as any other site out there. Some is real, some is exaggerated, and some is fake. And there are also accidents:

* Gino Whitehall has now updated his Facebook profile to show "Concept Artist at Blizzard Entertainment" now instead of the "previously worked at" status.
* Trent Kaniuga has also completely updated his FB profile to make it more accurate. It now shows the correct "Sr. Concept Artist at Blizzard Entertainment" as well as other updates.
* Jay Wilson left a comment on Trent's page: "I actually got asked if you were still working at Blizzard by PR at dinner last night, Trent. I reassured them you were, of course. Just remember, no such thing as bad press. :)"
* Paul Richards is involved in the conversations, and very well aware of the rumors. But, he has left his employment as the previously "Worked At" Blizzard. :)
* John Staats hasn't changed his status either.

But, wait one second. If they're updating their FB profile to be accurate, doesn't that mean they're serious about having correct FB information in the first place? I thought FB wasn't supposed to be reliable and it's all incorrect information? Perhaps this means that FB profiles are indeed reliable sources of information for certain Blizzard employees after all? Jay Wilson said he was talking to PR at dinner last night.. was he lying, or did Facebook just become a reliable source of information? :)

Also, look at the flip side of the coin. Consider what information was picked apart and shown, versus what was left out. I only talked about 8 potential names, for example, and mentioned a dozen others that I couldn't get any confirmation on their last working date (some were confirmed to be unemployed, but I couldn't confirm when their last day was.) What I didn't write about, though, were the hundreds of other names that were still showing employed and yet still accurate. If you have a report with 1000 names on it, but 2% of the information is incorrect, could that report still be considered as a reliable source (with a caveat)?

tl;dr; If Blizzard is saying FB profiles are inaccurate, then the opposite must also be true. The thousands of FB profiles showing "still employed" must not be correct or reliable. :)

I think I'll use Facebook again for certain investigations though. I realized some interesting stuff about it, discovered some new things, and it's an untapped resource for me. I've mostly focused on other sources of information.


Just an interesting update here.

Trent Kaniuga was indeed laid off and part of the same group as other layoffs. His last day at work was in February. However, he changed his status to "Working At Blizzard Entertainment" and left it that way even when he was no longer actually employed by Blizzard.