In the ever-evolving landscape of online privacy, Facebook seems to have a knack for finding itself in hot water. The latest debacle involves the exposure of personal information from over half a billion users—more than the populations of the U.S., Australia, the UK, and Canada combined. Join us as we uncover ten instances where Facebook’s privacy breaches left users exposed and vulnerable.
1. 533 Million User Profiles in 2021
In April 2021, personal details of Facebook users, including emails, IDs, phone numbers, birth dates, and locations, surfaced on a public hacking forum. Shockingly, Facebook chose not to disclose the affected users, claiming ignorance. The information, scraped before September 2019, poses a threat even if profiles have been updated since.
2. 419 Million User Phone Numbers in 2019
Last year, Facebook faced another blow as hundreds of millions of user phone numbers were exposed on a public server. The breach included U.S., UK, and Vietnamese users, with unique Facebook IDs and associated phone numbers laid bare. The mystery of the server’s origin and the method of data scraping remain unsolved.
3. 267 Million Records Exposed on the Dark Web in 2019
Over 267 million Facebook IDs, phone numbers, and names were discovered on an unsecured dark web database. The breach, traced back to Vietnam, raised questions about automated bots scraping data or potential theft from Facebook’s developer API. The records were accessible for two weeks before detection.
4. 6 Million Phone Numbers and Email Addresses in 2013
In 2013, a technical glitch exposed the contact details of 6 million users due to a database error. Facebook users downloading contact data received additional, unintended information. Facebook claimed to fix the bug within 24 hours but disclosed it only after ensuring its resolution.
5. 14 Million User Profiles in 2018
A Facebook glitch in 2018 resulted in 14 million users having their new posts set to “public” instead of their chosen privacy setting. This oversight persisted for four days during a feature rollout, prompting Facebook to advise users to review and adjust their privacy settings.
6. Up to 90 Million User Passwords in 2018
One of Facebook’s largest data breaches exposed up to 90 million accounts due to a bug in the “View As” feature. Attackers exploited a vulnerability to steal access tokens, potentially taking over any account. Facebook reset affected tokens, requiring users to re-enter their login details.
7. 87 Million Records Leaked to Cambridge Analytica in 2018
Cambridge Analytica gained access to the personal data of over 87 million Facebook users through an API vulnerability. An online personality quiz collected friend lists, enabling the creation of psychological profiles. The leaked data was linked to the quiz titled “thisisyourdigitallife.”
8. 600 Million Passwords Accessible in 2019
In 2019, security researcher Brian Krebs revealed that Facebook stored passwords of millions of users in plaintext, potentially accessible to employees. While Facebook claimed no evidence of abuse, concerns arose over the security of stored passwords.
9. 540 Million User Records Visible in 2019
Shortly after the Krebs revelations, Facebook faced another leak as third-party app developers left over 540 million records on publicly visible cloud servers. The data set included user activity, account names, and IDs, raising uncertainties about potential unauthorized access.
10. 1.5 Million User Email Contact Lists in 2019
In April 2019, Facebook admitted “unintentionally” siphoning email address books of 1.5 million users without explicit permission. The breach, spanning nearly three years, involved uploading email contacts after users entered email passwords. Internal processes were reinforced to prevent a recurrence.
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Q1: Is Facebook taking adequate measures to address these privacy breaches?
A1: Facebook’s track record indicates lapses in addressing and preventing privacy breaches. Vigilance and proactive measures are crucial for user protection.
Q2: How can users enhance their Facebook privacy in light of these leaks?
A2: Users should regularly review and adjust privacy settings, enable two-factor authentication, and stay informed about potential risks.
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