The repeat offender is back at it again! Are you one of 1.5 million people whose data Facebook leaked? Despite Facebook’s claims that users have absolute control over their data, the company has toyed with its users’ data throughout its existence.
The idea that users’ data is safe with the social network, becomes redundant by the day.
For those aware of Facebook’s past, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that the social network has gotten itself embroiled in yet another damning data/privacy scandal – one that could result in heavy regulatory penalties.
Facebook has admitted to illegally storing email contacts of nearly 1.5 million users without obtaining their consent.
When did it happen?
According to reports, between May 2016 and March 2019, the social network asked a subset of its user base to verify their emails by providing a password to their email accounts. Once the users did so, their contacts would be automatically copied and stored without an option to opt out.
How did it happen?
As per Facebook, the Email contacts were unintentionally uploaded as part of the systematic process (Yeah, sure! That’s so believable). According to Facebook, the “underlying issue” that led to the scandal has been fixed.
Still, don’t get it?
Email verification is pretty standard practice for most social media services but Facebook tweaked it to its advantage. Usually, when you sign up for a service you are urged to provide your email address for verification purposes. You then receive a link which you need to manually click for verifying that the Email belongs to you.
However, what Facebook did is, it made users verify their email addresses by handing over their passwords, with a message that went like:
“To continue using Facebook, you’ll need to confirm your email address”
This is not the social networks first time though. Facebook has long been accused of threatening democracies around the world.
A look at Facebook’s history of violating its user’s privacy:
If we had a dime for every time the social network infringed on its user’s privacy, we would probably be millionaires by now. Here is a look at some of the major scandals:
April 2019: As per emerging reports, Facebook and its founder Mark Zuckerberg considered striking a deal with as many as hundred developers to sell user’s data in order to assess the real market value of the company’s user data. Ultimately Facebook used the data as a competitive edge against its competitors, sharing it with partners and withholding it from those it viewed as a threat.
“Facebook’s handling of user’s data has always been a thorn in the side for the network’s users.”
December 2018: Just a few weeks before New Year, Facebook announced another huge data breach. Owing to a bug in its photo API, up to 1500 different apps had enjoyed access to their user’s photos whether they shared them or not.
June 2018: Soon after the Cambridge Analytica scandal, it emerged that the company had also struck deals with device manufacturers – Apple, Amazon, and Microsoft whereby user’s personal data was shared.
March 2018: It was revealed last year that Cambridge Analytica – a political engineering firm was given access to Facebook’s data of up to 87 million people without their knowledge.
Will Facebook finally pay for its constant data infringements?
As per emerging reports, federal investigators in the United States are looking at ways to hold Mark Zuckerberg accountable for the mishandling of user’s personal information in the past decade. This has come after years of probes and multiple investigations into Facebook’s misconduct, whereby the US government remained lenient towards Facebook; sparing Zuckerberg from brutal scrutiny.
A critical question emerging from the whole scenario is, how long will the public at large and specifically Facebook’s users put up with Facebook’s shenanigans?
The year isn’t over yet and given Facebook’s penchant for consecutive data breaches, there is no telling when the next Facebook privacy scandal pops up!