This week in PDF: Facebook’s PDF goof

This week in PDF has seen the Associated Press reveal financial terms of the Facebook/ConnectU settlement found in an improperly redacted PDF document, along with the launch of a free tool for updating PDF metadata.

First up, Facebook has joined the list of organizations with egg on their faces after inadvertently revealing details of its settlement with ConnectU. Facebook went to some pains to protect this information, having the press banned from the courtroom and censoring portions of the official documents for release. The funny part is that this redaction was botched, allowing members of the Associated Press to extract the sensitive information using nothing more complex than the ‘copy’ and ‘paste’ functions.

The Facebook misstep is reminiscent of a past redaction goof covered on this site. The basic issue in both cases was that, while the original text was not visible in the PDF document, it was still present. As an advocate of the PDF format, I think it’s important to note that this issue was not due to a weakness in the PDF format. There are effective ways to redact PDF content such as removing sensitive text from the original document prior to PDF creation. The best way, though, is to use dedicated PDF redaction products such as those offered by Appligent. These tools can completely remove content from PDF documents and prevent the embarrassment of unintentional leaks.

For more on this, check out Jason Kincaid’s article on A copy of the offending PDF can be found at

In other news, Debenu, the company behind royalty-free PDF SDK, Quick PDF Library (formerly known as iSEDQuickPDF), has released a free PDF information editor, PDF Properties Changer.

‘We built PDF Properties Changer using our own PDF SDK, Quick PDF Library,’ stated Karl De Abrew, Debenu CEO, ‘Whilst this version is fairly simple and modifies the PDF DocInfo fields only, in our next release we intend to use the XMP standard as stipulated in ISO 32000.’ De Abrew added that, ‘For those with Acrobat, it’s a real time-saver to perform simple metadata updates on a PDF without having to physically open the file. For those without, it allows you to make modifications without spending a cent.’

For more information or to download the tool for free, visit the official Debenu website.

That’s it for this week. Watch this space!

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About the Author: Dan Shea

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