Facebook has denied a Business Insider report claiming that more than 500 million phone numbers of its users have been leaked. According to the report, the personal information of over 533 million Facebook users from 106 countries including phone numbers, Facebook IDs, full names, locations, birthdates, bios, and – in some cases – email addresses were found in a low level hacking forum on Saturday.
Shortly after the reports of the leak circulated everywhere online, Facebook denied such was the case. According to Liz Bourgeois, the leak was from two years ago, which the social media behemoth claimed it found and also fixed.
“This is old data that was previously reported on in 2019. We found and fixed this issue in August 2019.”
“Old” no doubt, but considering the fact that some of these data in question include date of birth and addresses, they are still as relevant today as they were in 2019. This is enough reason to get people worried. Vital information is in the hands of some hackers out there, which gives much cause for concern.
I am not sure Facebook’s response would do much to allay people’s fears. The leak was fixed quite alright, but does it change the fact that vital information still remains in the public domain? It really does not change anything, and every Facebook user has the right to be worried.
What Facebook needs to do
Facebook should as a matter of urgency and duty notify those affected. While there is little or nothing it could do to stop the bad guys from further sharing the data or using it for pecuniary gain, it could at least provide useful tips to guide users.
The onus is on Facebook to protect the data entrusted in its care by users; a promise the company reiterated after the Cambridge Analytical data leak in 2018.
Millions of people are already tired of hearing of leaks, which in most cases are caused by careless acts by social media companies.
In 2019, Facebook’s hammer fell on tens of thousands of apps—suspending them as part of an ongoing investigation into improper use of private data. Third-party developers were accused, according to Facebook, for abuse of data.
The social media apps banned personality quiz apps for granting access to developers with inordinate ambition to gather data of users. The action of the so-called developers was deemed to be a violation of users’ privacy and should be condemned.
Facebook in itself acted a bit too late because this was allowed to go on for too long—for years many of these developers harvested private data of unsuspecting users through quiz apps—not the hammer has fallen on them.