Threatening Facebook’s efforts to rebrand itself as a privacy-friendly platform, the phone numbers of more than 400 million users were just found floating online.
First reported by TechCrunch, approximately 419 million Facebook IDs and phone numbers were discovered in several unsecure databases, of which roughly 133 million belong to U.S. Facebook users.
In response to the report, Facebook said it acted quickly to remove the databases from the Web, while it has launched an investigation into the matter.
Facebook is also insisting the number of users impacted by the incident is closer to 210 million, because the cache of more than 400 million consisted of duplicate data.
The information was most likely gathered prior to April 2018, when Facebook began cracking down on mass data-collecting in response to the Cambridge Analytica debacle.
The Cambridge Analytic catastrophe -- which ultimately affected an estimated 87 million Facebook users -- eventually exposed the company’s careless approach to user privacy.
Late last year, internal documents released by UK lawmakers portrayed Mark Zuckerberg as oblivious to the potential dangers of third-party developers possessing user data.
“I think we leak info to developers, but I just can’t think of any instances where that data has leaked from developer to developer and caused a real issue for us,” Zuckerberg wrote in an internal email in late 2012.
In response to the release of his personal emails, Zuckerberg said the idea that he ever took user privacy for granted was absurd. “We’ve focused on preventing abusive apps for years,” he said at the time.
In the wake of the Cambridge Analytic scandal -- which resulted in a $5 billion fine from the FTC -- Facebook has been on something of a privacy crusade.
From making facial recognition opt-in to letting users detach their accounts from their app and Web histories, the company appears to have recently stepped up those effort.