The news: The personal data of 533 million Facebook users in more than 106 countries was found to be freely available online last weekend. The data trove, uncovered by security researcher Alon Gal, includes phone numbers, email addresses, home towns, full names, and birth dates. Initially, Facebook claimed that the data leak was previously reported on in 2019 and that it had patched the vulnerability that caused it that August. But in fact, it appears that Facebook did not properly disclose the breach at the time. It only finally acknowledged it on Tuesday April 6 in a blog post by product management director Mike Clark.
Facebook is still a privacy nightmare. The company's history of porous data sharing continues to haunt both it and us (its fairly helpless users) on the regular. On Wednesday, researchers from the cybersecurity firm UpGuard shared that they found two massive troves of exposed Facebook user data that had been posted publicly on Amazon cloud servers. The data included users' passwords, names, comments, and likes. The scope of this particular privacy foul from Facebook is tremendous: More than 540 million user records were sitting in plain sight, available to anyone who found them.
The latest Fox News Poll finds that nearly three-quarters (73 percent) of current users say they care if Facebook shares their information with others, and a large 43 percent minority have thought about deleting their account in order to protect their privacy. Think about your interaction with Facebook as a relationship. Now, imagine being at dinner with someone new and they say they are recording the conversation, taking your fingerprints, tracking your movements and they are going to share all of that data with everyone--without your knowledge or consent. According to Matt Erickson, executive director at the Digital Privacy Alliance, that unpleasant scenario is what his colleagues are working against and what Europe's sweeping new privacy regulations taking effect on May 25 are meant to help prevent. During his recent Capitol Hill testimony, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said his company already has controls in place to comply with Europe's General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and told lawmakers they'd likely extend some of those protections to its 2.2 billion users globally.