Third-party errors left over 540 million Facebook records exposed

Alexander Nix the former CEO of Cambridge Analytica which harvested the personal data of millions of Facebook users to allegedly influence potential voters around the world

540 Mllion Facebook Records Leaked by Public Amazon S3 Buckets

This shows that there have been little efforts from Facebook in ensuring foolproof security of the data that it extracts from its users.

Another dataset, sourced from a Facebook-integrated app known as "At the Pool", was also found via an Amazon S3 bucket. The company's website says it creates content through data and technology and has more than 45 million followers on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube and Pinterest. "But as these exposures show, the data genie can not be put back in the bottle", UpGuard wrote in its blog post. At the Pool's data vanished before a notification email could be sent. It's unclear how many individual users had data exposed. But according to UpGuard, the trove of data was only secured today after Bloomberg contacted Facebook about the exposed database.

The incident is the latest in a growing catalogue of data issues for the company, following widespread incidents of misinformation being spread on the network, breaches of user data and allegations of political manipulation.

Researchers for the firm UpGuard discovered two separate sets of Facebook user data on public Amazon cloud servers, the company detailed in a blogpost. "Even if they change their passwords, other data such as private messages, for example, or search history - will remain affixed somewhere and often in hands of unscrupulous third parties". "However, the researchers said that the passwords appear to be from the third-party At the Pool" app rather than Facebook accounts.

In addition, At the Pool's leaked database came with "fk_user_id, fb_user, fb_friends, fb_likes, fb_music, fb_movies, fb_books, fb_photos, fb_events, fb_groups, fb+checkins, fb_interests, and more" user data points. "The surface area for protecting the data of Facebook users is thus vast and heterogenous, and the responsibility for securing it lies with millions of app developers who have built on its platform".

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A person holds a smartphone with the Facebook logo in front of displayed "top secret" and "email" words, in this picture illustration taken December 6, 2018.

Facebook used to allow developers access data about information of people using the app and their friends but they stopped this recently.

A Facebook spokesperson told TNW, "Once alerted to the issue, we worked with Amazon to take down the databases".

"The data exposed in each of these sets would not exist without Facebook, yet these data sets are no longer under Facebook's control", the UpGuard researchers explain in their report.

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