Details from more than 500 million Facebook users have been found available on a website for hackers. The information appears to be several years old, but it is another example of the vast amount of information collected by Facebook and other social media sites, and the limits to how secure that information is.
The availability of the data set was first reported by Business Insider.
According to the news report, it has information from 106 countries including phone numbers, Facebook IDs, full names, locations, birthdates, and email addresses.
Facebook has been grappling with data security issues for years. In 2018, the social media giant disabled a feature that allowed users to search for one another via phone number following revelations that the political firm Cambridge Analytica had accessed information on up to 87 million Facebook users without their knowledge or consent.
In December 2019, a Ukrainian security researcher reported finding a database with the names, phone numbers and unique user IDs of more than 267 million Facebook users nearly all U.S.-based on the open internet. It is unclear if the current data dump is related to this database.
“This is old data that was previously reported on in 2019,” the Menlo Park, California-based company said in a statement. “We found and fixed this issue in August 2019.”
Recently Facebook reported that it is taking several measures, including reducing the distribution of content deemed to be hate speech, as part of its efforts to curb the spread of misinformation during elections in four Indian states. Facebook also said that it will also temporarily reduce the distribution of content from accounts that have recently and repeatedly violated the company’s policies.
“We recognise that there are certain types of content such as hate speech that could lead to imminent, offline harm…To decrease the risk of problematic content going viral in these states and potentially inciting violence ahead of or during the election, we will significantly reduce the distribution of content that our proactive detection technology identifies as likely hate speech or violence and incitement,” Facebook issued a statement on its blog post.