Details were ‘scraped’ not ‘hacked’; Facebook downplays data leak

By Amirtha P S, Desk Reporter
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Late last week, a Facebook data leak of 533 million users was reported, and the social media giant has now officially responded to it in a lengthy blog post, explaining that the data is old and was actually scraped back in September 2019.

In the latest blog, Facebook clarified that the hackers accessed the user data by scraping it from their systems. “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. We are confident that the specific issue that allowed them to scrape this data in 2019 no longer exists.”

Facebook further states that malicious actors were able to scrape information or collect so much of this data from user profiles by using the company’s contact importer facility before September 2019. This feature was designed to help people find their friends on its service using their contact lists.

When concerns regarding this feature were reported back in 2019, Facebook updated the contact importer to avoid data scraping. It further assured that the information collected did not include financial and health details or passwords.

Facebook further stated that it has assigned dedicated teams to handle 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. The social media giant also suggested users conduct regular privacy checkups of their accounts.

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