Profiles on the Profile Engine were collected from two sources:
1. Profile Engine launched in 2007 and since then about ten million people have directly created a profile on profile engine and requested that we make it public and searchable in order it is easier for other people to find them.
2. Facebook made available about 420 million public profiles and contracted with us to provide a powerful search engine for Facebook (originally simply called "Advanced Search for Facebook" and later renamed "The Profile Engine". We added these profiles from Facebook to the profile engine database with the full knowledge, approval and permission of Facebook. Facebook agreed to this because we provided them with powerful and innovative search engine features which are not available on Facebook itself.
The profiles which Facebook gave to profile engine were also given to various other search engines and market research organisations. They were also distributed to the general public and facebook even permitted millions of them to be downloaded and distributed as bit torrent files. This data is publicly available and widely distributed, not just on profile engine. If your profile incliudes friends or group memberships then it is one of the ones which Facebook made public.
Some profiles may contain a mixture of data from both of the above sources.
Importantly, Profile Engine DOES NOT contain any private data - everything on profile engine was already available to the general public before it appeared on Profile Engine.
The majority of the data on Profile Engine was collected between 2007 and 2010. Images were updated when possible until around the end of 2011. You should therefore not assume that information on Profile Engine is up to date, current or correct.
Facebook are contractually obliged to keep the information on Profile Engine up to date. Unfortunately since October 2010 Facebook have refused to keep this public data up to date and they refuse to notify us when data is deleted from Facebook or made private, therefore we cannot automatically delete data from Profile Engine when it is deleted from Facebook.
Sometimes people claim that they did not give Facebook permission to make their data public. Facebook have already made this data public and we have only collected data from sources which are already made public and available for anyone to view. Any dispute over whether you gave Facebook permission to make your profile public does not involve us - you should take the matter up with Facebook.
Remember that any change you make to Facebook privacy settings only affects new postings made after you changed the setting - it does not affect material that you have already made public in the past. Once something has been made public it remains public forever. Although profile engine does provide a comprehensive service to delete profiles if you wish to do so, please note that the other companies Facebook provides this data to do not normally offer any similar deletion service.
For further information please read the report by the Privacy Comissioner which is published in the "Downloads" section of the helpdesk.