Massive “scraping” operation in 2019 led to the data of over 500million users being leaked: Facebook

San Francisco, April 7 2021: Facebook made a public announcement on Tuesday about the 530million users whose data was hacked in a 2019 leak.

Using a loophole in a friend-finding feature of Facebook, hackers were able to scrape and share data of over half a billion people at a hacking forum. The attack prompted Facebook to explain to people what had happened and urge them to be more vigilant about their privacy and security settings.

Making an important distinction, Facebook highlighted the fact that the hackers obtained this info not by hacking into its servers but basically by scraping the platform for this, according to Facebook product management director Mike Clark. “This is another example of the ongoing, adversarial relationship technology companies have with fraudsters who intentionally break platform policies to scrape internet services.” He added.

He urged Facebook users to check their privacy settings to control what information can be seen publicly, and to tighten account security with two-factor authentication.

Scraping is a tactic that involves using automated software to gather up information shared publicly online. “All 533,000,000 Facebook records were just leaked for free,” Alon Gal, chief technology officer at the Hudson Rock cybercrime intelligence firm, said on Twitter. He denounced the “absolute negligence” of Facebook.

The data scraped included phone numbers, birth dates, and email addresses, and some of the data appeared to be current, but there was no record of passwords, or financial data being stolen according to Facebook.

This isn’t the first controversy Facebook has been embroiled in. In 2016, a scandal around Cambridge Analytica, a British consulting firm that used the personal data of millions of Facebook users to target political ads, cast a shadow over the social network and its handling of private information.

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