Facebook: What Users’ Phone Number Leak Means



Recently, a massive database of Facebook users’ phone numbers was discovered in an unprotected server.

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Facebook users’ phone numbers exposed

A security researcher stumbled across the database and alerted TechCrunch, according to a report on Wednesday.

The report stated that the database contained over 419 million phone number records. In some cases, the exposed data included people’s name, gender, and the countries where they live. Facebook (FB) has more than 2.4 billion users worldwide on its social network. In the US, the exposed database had 133 million users’ phone numbers. The company finished the second quarter with 244 million users in the US and Canada. The database showed 18 million users’ phone records in the United Kingdom.

The company thinks that someone might have harvested the data from its platform. They might have got the phone records before the company pulled down a feature that allowed people to look up other users by entering phone numbers. Facebook said that the records looked old. So far, the company hasn’t seen anything suggesting that someone used the records to compromise user accounts. Facebook also told CNN Business that the database is full of duplicates. The number of people impacted might be significantly less than the reported figure.

No lawsuit or probe 

So far, we haven’t heard about any lawsuits related to users’ phone number leak. We also haven’t heard a regulatory agency announce a probe of the data leak.

However, we think that the latest Facebook data leak could put more pressure on big tech companies. This week, Google (GOOGL) agreed to pay $170 million to settle with the FTC (Federal Trade Commission). An FTC probe found that Google didn’t protect the data of children using its YouTube video service. In July, Facebook also reached a landmark $5.0 billion privacy settlement with the FTC.

Generally, big tech companies are under more regulatory scrutiny over a range of issues from data protection to fair competition.

For Facebook, we think that the latest user phone data leak could be a blow to its libra project. The company plans to create a global digital currency. The project received strong opposition from regulators around the world.

Besides worrying about libra’s potential impact on global financial stability, regulators also have questioned Facebook’s ability to protect the data of people who would use libra. The company doesn’t have a clean data privacy track record.


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