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“These are old data that was already reported in 2019. We discovered and fixed the problem in August 2019,” wrote a spokeswoman for the online network on Saturday (local time) on Twitter. The IT security firm Hudson Rock had found data from 533 million Facebook users on the net, as the news website “Business Insider” reported.
When personal information such as email addresses and phone numbers circulate, people are more likely to fall for fake emails because they can be made more authentic. According to the latest information, Facebook has 2.8 billion users who are active at least once a month.
As early as 2019, the phone numbers of 420 million users appeared on the network after a friend search function had been misused to access data. The phone numbers stored on Facebook were not openly visible, but could be assigned to individual users on a large scale and accessed via automated inquiries – so-called “scraping”.
The Facebook function was intended to quickly find friends on the online network whose phone number you know. However, data thieves designed software that would allow them to find out which Facebook users they belong to by entering phone numbers.
This violated the Facebook rules, but was technically possible until the online network finally switched off the function. Once such data has been tapped, it can hardly be stopped from spreading on the internet.
Even if, as Facebook points out, it is “very old data”, many people keep the same e-mail addresses and phone numbers for years.
Scraping has always been a problem for Facebook. In 2018, for example, the online network had to admit that all publicly accessible data from the then more than two billion users was systematically collected through automatic retrieval. Later there were data protection debates about the company Clearview AI, which collected publicly visible images from, among other things, Facebook’s photo platform Instagram and on this basis put together a database for facial recognition. Clearview AI customers include US law enforcement agencies.
NEW YORK (dpa-AFX)
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