Beijing [China], July 6 (ANI): Police in China have detained a college graduate on suspicion of stealing university data in order to create a website rating the attractiveness of his fellow students, reported CNN.
According to a police statement issued on Monday, the 25-year-old, identified by the surname Ma, is a graduate of Beijing’s prestigious Renmin University.
Several online posts over the weekend accused him of stealing student personal information from the university’s database while he was a student there.
The posts suggested, Ma utilised the data to create a website that ranks undergraduate and graduate students’ physical looks. Screenshots from the now-defunct website show student profiles with their names, student IDs, dates and places of birth published alongside their photographs – and their given ratings.
Screenshots of Ma’s now-deleted social media posts indicate that the platform has been active since 2020.
The screenshots were initially uploaded on Renmin University’s student discussion board on Saturday.
The allegations caused widespread outrage on social media, with many demanding for a police probe. The episode went viral on Weibo, China’s Twitter-like platform, garnering hundreds of millions of views.
Ma has been compared to Mark Zuckerberg by several users. Before Zuckerberg dropped out of Harvard to launch Facebook, he created FaceMash, a website that allowed visitors to compare photos of Harvard students and judge who was more attractive.
After Havard’s Administrative Board accused him of breaking security and abusing privacy, Zuckerberg took down the site.
Renmin University stated in a statement on Sunday that it had contacted police and was collaborating with them in their investigation of the incident.
“The school strongly condemns behaviours that violate personal privacy and endanger information security,” according to the statement.
In a statement issued Monday, police in Beijing’s Haidian district, where the institution is situated, said they “attach great importance” to the security of personal information and promised to “severely crack down on related crimes.”
Following the announcement by the police, a Renmin University employee informed the state-run China News Weekly, as cited by CNN, that the leaked information spanned several years, from 2014 to 2020. Ma had suspended from his job, the report added.
Some Chinese social media users urged universities to take their lesson and improve network security for their servers, CNN reported. (ANI)
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