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Facebook App Developers Exposed Users’ Data: Report

The political consultancy firm Cambridge Analytica also harvested data of 87 million users via a quiz app, leaving Facebook under heavy criticism on how it share user data with third parties

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A television photographer shoots the sign outside of Facebook headquarters in Menlo Park, Calif. VOA

In yet another shocking revelation, US-based cyber security firm UpGuard has found that Facebook app developers left millions of user records, including comments, likes and reactions, exposed on the Amazon Cloud servers.

The third-party Facebook app developers exposed data in the public domain in two large datasets that contained 540 million users’ records.

“One, originating from the Mexico-based media company Cultura Colectiva, weighs in at 146 gigabytes and contains over 540 million records detailing comments, likes, reactions, account names, FB IDs and more,” said UpGuard in a blog post on Wednesday.

“A separate backup from a Facebook-integrated app titled ‘At the Pool’ was also found exposed to the public internet via an Amazon S3 bucket,” said the researchers.

The “At the Pool” discovery is not as large as the Cultura Colectiva dataset, but it contains plaintext (unprotected) passwords for 22,000 users.

“As Facebook faces scrutiny over its data stewardship practices, they have made efforts to reduce third-party access.

“But as these exposures show, the data genie cannot be put back in the bottle. Data about Facebook users has been spread far beyond the bounds of what Facebook can control today,” said UpGuard.

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This photo shows a Facebook app icon on a smartphone in New York. VOA

Combine that plenitude of personal data with storage technologies that are often misconfigured for public access and the result is a long tail of data about Facebook users that continues to leak.

A Facebook spokesperson told The Verge that the company’s policies prohibit storing Facebook information in a public database.

“Once alerted to the issue, we worked with Amazon to take down the databases. We are committed to working with the developers on our platform to protect people’s data,” the spokesperson added.

Also Read- Snapchat Testing New Features

The political consultancy firm Cambridge Analytica also harvested data of 87 million users via a quiz app, leaving Facebook under heavy criticism on how it share user data with third parties.

“In each case, the Facebook platform facilitated the collection of data about individuals and its transfer to third parties, who became responsible for its security,” said UpGuard.

“The surface area for protecting the data of Facebook users is thus vast and heterogenous, and the responsibility for securing it lies with millions of app developers who have built on its platform,” it added. (IANS)

Next Story

Facebook ‘Unintentionally’ Uploaded Emails of Nearly 1.5 mn Users

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

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Facebook, data, vietnam
This photo shows a Facebook app icon on a smartphone in New York. VOA

In a latest privacy goof up, Facebook “unintentionally” uploaded the emails of nearly 1.5 million of its users during the past three years.

A Facebook spokesperson admitted on 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.

First reported by Business Insider, 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”.

“Last month we stopped offering email password verification as an option for people verifying their account when signing up for Facebook for the first time,” the Facebook spokesperson was quoted as saying.

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FILE – A 3D printed Facebook logo is seen in front of a displayed Russian flag in this photo illustration, Aug. 3, 2018. VOA

“We’ve fixed the underlying issue and are notifying people whose contacts were imported,” Facebook said.

The social network said the contacts weren’t shared with anyone and are being deleted, reports CNET.

Also Read- Here’s Why TikTok Ban May Not Give the Desired Results

“People can also review and manage the contacts they share with Facebook in their settings,” said the company.

Facebook is facing the heat over several data scandals, including the massive Cambridge Analytica scandal where personal information of up to 87 million users was leaked. (IANS)