Facebook might meet the fate of RMS Titanic.
In a latest disclosure, Facebook has confirmed harvesting the email contacts of
1.5 million users without their consent. Facebook said that this contact data was “unintentionally uploaded to Facebook.”
Facebook is collecting the data since May 2016. The news comes after a security researcher noticed that Facebook is asking users to enter email passwords when they sign up for new accounts, to verify their identities. Once you enter your email password, a message pops up saying, Facebook is ‘importing’ your contacts. The message pops up without asking for the user’s permission.
On Wednesday, Facebook confirmed that 1.5 million contacts were indeed collected by the platform. The company further claims that this data was collected to improve Facebook’s targeting. The platform has an option to recommend you to add your friends, it uses email addresses to suggest these friends.
Before May 2016, Facebook offered an option to verify user’s account using their email password and an option to upload contacts. Facebook changed the feature and consent asking whether users wish to upload their contacts.
With this method, Facebook harvested contact details of 1.5 million people. The total number of people whose contact information was obtained by Facebook could be in hundreds of million.
Email contact case is the latest addition to the long series of events in which Facebook has mishandled the data. In March, the company found out that it has stored passwords of
600 million users in plain text for months.
The ongoing data breaches and criticism has also led to some of the high-profile Facebook users delete their accounts. In an interview, a Democrat Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez said, “I personally gave up Facebook, which was kind of a big deal because I started my campaign on Facebook.”