Thursday, 21 November, 2019

Facebook "Unintentionally Uploaded" Email IDs Of 1.5 Million Users

US-internet-lifestyle-computers-media Facebook harvested the email contacts of about 1.5 million users when they signed up to the service. Josh Edelson AFP Getty Images
Russell Knight | 18 April, 2019, 18:28

Now we have confirmation from Facebook those contact were stored.

Social giant Facebook said it "unintentionally" uploaded more than a million user email contacts to the site in mid-2016, due to a problem it took almost three years to find. Facebook then imported users' contacts without first asking permission, Business Insider reported.

Facebook did not respond to Reuters request for comment outside regular business hours.

Impacted users will be notified over the coming days and the social network is actively deleting their email contact information from internal systems.

"Individuals and organizations who spread hate, or attack or call for the exclusion of others on the basis of who they are, have no place on Facebook", the company said.

But security experts said the practice was "beyond sketchy", noting that it gave Facebook access to a large amount of personal data and may have led to users adopting unsafe practices around password confidentiality. "When we looked into the steps people were going through to verify their accounts we found that in some cases people's email contacts were also unintentionally uploaded to Facebook when they created their account", the Facebook spokesperson said. They were also asked if they wanted to upload their address book voluntarily.

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Facebook changed the verification process in 2016 and that's when the mistake happened.

Ireland's Data Protection Commissioner, which oversees Facebook in Europe, is engaged with the firm to understand what happened and its consequences. What's alarming is that there's no indication of this before you enter the password, so Facebook is gathering data without user content.

In an interview with a Yahoo News podcast she said: "I personally gave up Facebook, which was kind of a big deal because I started my campaign on Facebook".

A glitch meant that new users who signed up for email password verification had their email contacts scraped and uploaded without consent.

She added that social media posed a "public health risk".

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