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Wacky, amoral MIT students and the Harvard kids who love them

The Crimson reports a pair of MIT students set up an alleged Harvard dating site to see just how stupid Harvard students are.

In an emailed statement, Kronman wrote that he created the matchmaking service as an amusing experiment to see how many Harvard students he could dupe. ...

Though some Harvard students said they were initially resigned to the fact that they were scammed, they were happy to eventually receive their matches.

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Comments

The story comes off as kind of cute in the end but this is still fraud. They collected very sensitive data about people as a joke but who says that info can't be used in other ways. They should see repercussions.

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Is there a law they broke?

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The collecting of sensitive information under false pretenses must be illegal in some way. It sure is not ethical and they do go to a school , MIT, that has policies on ethics within their student bodies.

For instance telling someone you offer a service you claim is legit while asking them about their sexual preferences and experience could be seen as sexual harassment.

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must be illegal in some way

What's the law? I do not know whether or not such an applicable law exists, but at this point you are making a supposition that the law exists without any supporting information.

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regulations regarding the privacy of personal data in the US, which are rather laxer than in some places, they mostly apply to businesses and public institutions that fail to protect the privacy of medical records and personal information that might be exploited for financial fraud like identify theft (think SSNs, bank account and payment card info, etc.)

The EU with its GDPR regime gives consumers much more power over how businesses, including surveillance-economy companies like Facebook, use their personal data, backed up by massive fines for transgressors.

Republican administrations here tend to loosen individual privacy protections (favoring business), Democratic ones to tighten them (favoring ordinary citizens), but I don't see much momentum for stricter privacy laws at a national level at the moment. Some states have moved or are moving that way (notably California with its CCPA law, always a first mover), but it will always be a dodgy patchwork without federal legislation.

That said, this might be criminal under some statute to which I'm oblivious. I'm no lawyer.

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And if I saw their resume in the pile - assuming I remembered who they were, which is extremely unlikely - I sure wouldn't hire them! I would also advise my colleagues not to hire them and tell them exactly why.

This online argument tactic of "this sketchy thing is not illegal, therefore it's illegal for there to be social or professional consequences to my actions" is very dumb.

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some government agencies (like the NSA, CIA and FBI) that might see this prank as a demonstration of valuable social engineering skills. Ask any cybersecurity pro: it's much harder to bust through a firewall or other tech-based defensive measure than to get a gullible insider to unlock the back door.

The vast majority of cyberattacks start with an employee clicking on a link or attachment in a craftily deceptive email that they shouldn't. This stunt is not necessarily disqualifying in this century's job market, and could be a golden ticket into certain cybersecurity jobs, a field in which there is way more demand than available talent at the moment.

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Likewise if you’re a software engineer and you’ve been repeatedly accused of sexual harassment I’m sure Barstool or Draftkings won’t mind. But it’ll sure screw up your application for a fancy research software position at Harvard Medical School. I’m not saying they won’t be able to get any job but I sure hope it’s more difficult.

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violation in collecting information about respondents' sex lives under false pretenses, even if they kept it private. Point taken about how it might justifiably limit their job prospects. It doesn't belong in the same category as harmless MIT pranks like a balloon on the football field at Harvard or a campus police cruiser on top of the dome.

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They DID deliver the matches which was the pretense in which users provided the information. So even if they say it was a joke, I don't see the fraud whatsoever. They said sign up for this app, provide this info, and we'll match you with someone based on the algorithm. Then they did just that.

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They would be welcome at Facebook, Google, Amazon, or any other internet based company. What they did is right in line with what all the big companies already do.

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I legit LOL’ed when I read this part:

Despite her initial disappointment, Wiebold said she has exchanged messages with her match and is open to filling out a survey by ExExEx again.

Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice…I go to Harvard!

(Seriously though, I hope the authors of this hack were smart enough to destroy most of the personal data they received in a provable manner - in case they are either sued by an irate victim or hacked by someone who realizes just how valuable all that juicy data is!)

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Isn't this how Facebook started?

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IMAGE(https://i.kym-cdn.com/photos/images/original/000/817/900/dd0.gif)

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Unlike Facebook, at least these MIT guys managed to provide something of value in the end.

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But you would blacklist them from job market anyway?

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Maybe in a few years if they keep their noses clean and have a good work history. Definitely not straight out of college, even for a junior role. Being a sketchy jerk who takes advantage of people is a perfectly good reason to not hire someone, and using inflammatory (and dishonest) terms like “blacklist” is just a way of side-stepping the issue. If I found out someone repeatedly lied to their last manager that would also be a good reason to “blacklist” them (aka refuse to hire them).

Are you trying to catch me in a contradiction from my earlier comment? That is awfully pathetic even by internet comment standards.

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Boy you're hung on this. No it won't happen. Its just won't.

Take it from someone who's name you can google and find pages of news articles from all over the world about a famous "hack" of a website. It doesn't happen because people don't care.

29 years in my industry, and I've NEVER had someone come up to me "oh we weren't going to hire you because of what happened in 1999", in fact the response I get when I tell people about this is "very cool. Bravo".

If people today can get onto tiktok and post some of the most disturbing or cringeworthy things and manage to get a job. I think some kids from harvard running a fake dating service, which they came out and said was fake, wouldn't affect them very much.

And as a hiring manager of technical people.. Assuming all had the same qualifications, and had a choice of

a) One of these guys from harvard who started a fake dating service
b) A wanna be nymphette squeezing her boobs together while lip syncing WAP on tiktok
c) A twitch streamer who pretty much uses their free time to game.

I'd pick A every time. Why? It tells me what type of person you are and what type of worker you are. While the dating service is misleading, it tells me that you're always thinking, can think critically, can think out of the box, and you're dedicated to an idea, enough to complete it. Even if you do not have a stake (money). This would set you apart from the other two.

While people think what they did is bad behavior, in a lot of companies, its seen as something that can be molded into something else. And if they continue to be nefarious... they are shown the door quickly. However, I've only seen that happen once, and the person had issues outside of his job. Most people will see their new job as a good thing & won't be nefarious.

This isn't as bad as you think.

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Most corporations are sketchy jerks who take advantage of people. So many companies exist solely to mine consumers for information, using any legal or mostly legal method. These kids have a proven record of doing exactly that and would be perfect hires.

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because Harvard people do not have souls.

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This wasn't the first time a Harvard/MIT dating site generated complaints. http://tech.mit.edu/V123/N20/20matchup.20n.html

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