Facebook responds to data leak, says data was scraped and not ‘hacked’

Facebooksaid that hackers accessed the user data by scraping it from their systems, and this happened before 2019.

| Updated on: Aug 21 2022, 16:16 IST
Facebook data leak
Facebook data leak (REUTERS)
Facebook data leak
Facebook data leak (REUTERS)

Facebook was caught in another familiar user data controversy late last week. According to a Business Insider report, phone numbers and personal data of 533 million Facebook users have been leaked online. Facebook has now responded to the report explaining what might have happened.

Facebook in a blog said that hackers accessed the user data by scraping it from their systems. The social media giant clarified that this wasn't done through hacking but by scraping it, and it happened before September 2019. “Scraping is a common tactic that often relies on automated software to lift public information from the internet that can end up being distributed in online forums like this,” Facebook explained in its blog.

Facebook further added that malicious actors scraped these information from people's Facebook profiles using the platform's contact importer. Facebook had designed this feature to make it easier for people to connect with friends from their contact lists. This was already reported back in 2019, and after which Facebook said it updated the contact importer to avoid data scraping. It added that the information collected did not include financial and health details or passwords.

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Facebook said that it has dedicated teams working on such cases. It also advised users to update the “How People Find and Contact You” tool on Facebook. This feature lets users add their email address and phone number, and control who can contact them through those contacts. Facebook also suggested users conduct regular privacy checkups of their accounts.

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First Published Date: 07 Apr, 11:38 IST