Facebook Data On 419 Million Users Found On the Internet

Data on hundreds of millions of Facebook users were found online.
Donna Fuscaldo
Facebook and other social media iconsalexsl/iStock

Data on 419 million Facebook users were found online, impacting customers from the U.K. to the U.S. 

Sanyam Jain, a researcher from GDI Foundation discovered a database on a server that wasn't protected, reported TechCrunch. The data included phone numbers, Facebook IDs, user names, gender and countries they were located in. It's not clear why the data was scraped from the social media network or who was behind it, reported TechCrunch. 


Facebook says dataset is old 

In a statement to Engadget, a Facebook spokesperson said the dataset is old and has information that was removed last year including using phone numbers to find other uses. The spokesperson said the dataset has been taken down and there is "no evidence" Facebook accounts were impacted. 

According to TechCrunch, which verified some of the records in the database by matching them to known users of the platform, the data leak exposed 133 million records of U.S -based Facebook users, 18 million records of users residing in the UK and records from 50 million users in Vietnam. Both TechCrunch and the researcher were not able to find the owner of the dataset. The researcher noted he found celebrity profiles which included phone numbers. 

Facebook could face more scrutiny

Even if this data leak doesn't impact users of Facebook it is certain to bring its privacy measures back into the spotlight. The social network operator has been under close scrutiny ever since Cambridge Analytica, the now-defunct political consulting firm, accessed data on 87 million Facebook users without its permission. Using phone numbers to locate users was one of the functions Facebook removed last spring to address scraping of data. But because people usually keep their phone numbers for a long time, hackers could use the phone numbers to send spam calls or otherwise access their information. 

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The new data leak also comes a few weeks after Facebook agreed to pay $5 billion to the Federal Trade Commission to address privacy violations. It stands as the largest fine ever levied against a technology company but is tiny compared to its worth of $585 billion. Even though its a record fine, critics of the social media company don't think its enough. They are calling for the break up of the social media giant. 

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