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Facebook Gave Device Makers Deep Access To Data on Users and Friends

Facebook allowed phone makers to access users' data: Report

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Facebook
Facebook unveils new VR headset 'Oculus Quest'. Pixabay

Raising fresh concerns about Facebook’s privacy protection policies, a New York Times report has exposed how the social network allowed about 60 device makers, including Apple and Samsung, to access personal information of users and their friends.

Even before Facebook apps were widely available on smartphones, Facebook had data-sharing partnerships with the device makers, the report said citing company officials, adding that most of the deals remain in effect.

While the device partnerships allowed Facebook to expand its reach, it let the phone makers offer customers popular features of the social network, such as messaging, “like” buttons and address books.

The deals raise concerns about the company’s privacy protections and compliance with a 2011 consent decree with the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC), The Times said.

Facebook, which is already under scrutiny for misuse of millions of its users’ data after the Cambridge Analytica data leak scandal became public, reportedly allowed the device companies access to the data of users’ friends without their explicit consent.

Representational image.
Representational image. Pixabay

While Facebook’s leaders said that the kind of access exploited by the political consulting firm in 2014 was cut off by the next year as it prohibited developers from collecting information from users’ friends.

But the company officials did not disclose that such restrictions were not applicable to makers of cellphones, tablets and other hardware, the report said.

However, Facebook officials denied the device partnerships violated its privacy policies, the FTC agreement and pledges to users.

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They said its partnerships were governed by contracts that strictly limited use of the data, including any stored on partners’ servers, adding that they knew of no cases where the information had been misused.

“These partnerships work very differently from the way in which app developers use our platform,” Ime Archibong, a Facebook vice president was quoted as saying. (IANS)

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Facebook Reveals Millions of Instagram Passwords Stored on Servers

Facebook had found that some user passwords were being stored in a readable format within our internal data storage systems.

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instagram
The company on Thursday revealed that millions of passwords belonging to the users of its photo-sharing service Instagram were also exposed. Pixabay

A day after admitting it “unintentionally” uploaded emails of nearly 1.5 million of new users, Facebook has now revealed that millions of Instagram passwords were stored on its servers in a readable format.

Last month, Facebook said that it fixed a security issue wherein millions of its users’ passwords were stored in plain text and “readable” format for years and were searchable by thousands of its employees.

The company on Thursday revealed that millions of passwords belonging to the users of its photo-sharing service Instagram were also exposed.

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The revelation came to light after a security researcher noticed that “Facebook was asking some users to enter their email passwords when they signed up for new accounts to verify their identities”. VOA

“We discovered additional logs of Instagram passwords being stored in a readable format. We now estimate that this issue impacted millions of Instagram users,” said the social networking giant in an update.

“We will be notifying these users as we did the others. Our investigation has determined that these stored passwords were not internally abused or improperly accessed.”

Facebook had found that some user passwords were being stored in a readable format within our internal data storage systems.

“This caught our attention because our login systems are designed to mask passwords using techniques that make them unreadable. We have fixed these issues and as a precaution will be notifying everyone whose passwords we found stored this way,” wrote Pedro Canahuati, Vice President, Engineering, Security and Privacy at Facebook.

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“We discovered additional logs of Instagram passwords being stored in a readable format. We now estimate that this issue impacted millions of Instagram users,” said the social networking giant in an update. Pixabay

A Facebook spokesperson admitted late Wednesday that emails of 1.5 million people were harvested since May 2016 to help build Facebook’s web of social connections and recommend other users to add as friends.

The revelation came to light after a security researcher noticed that “Facebook was asking some users to enter their email passwords when they signed up for new accounts to verify their identities”.

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The social network said the contacts weren’t shared with anyone and were being deleted.

In March, a report by Krebs On Security claimed that around 200-600 million Facebook users may have had their account passwords stored in plain text and searchable by over 20,000 Facebook employees. (IANS)