Skip to main content

Facebook Users Should Assume Their Public Has Been Scraped

By April 20, 2018June 8th, 2022Technology News

First it was 55 million.  Then 77 million.  Now, it’s 2.2 billion, or pretty much every user on Facebook.  That’s how many people should assume that their public profile information has been scraped.

The conversation began when it came to light that Cambridge Analytica (a political research firm) had misused Facebook’s search function to scrap profile data for tens of millions of Facebook’s users to help the Trump campaign win the recent presidential election.

As research into the matter has continued. However, it has become clear that Cambridge Analytica wasn’t the only group misusing the search feature, and that before Facebook disabled it, more than two billion of Facebook’s users had seen their public profile information scraped.

Essentially, Facebook was used to paint a more complete picture of users to build a profile which could be sold on the Dark Web.

Starting with stolen phone numbers or addresses, hackers developed automated routines that fed this information into Facebook’s search function, enabling them to link these bits of information with the names and locations of specific people.  Having a more complete profile in hand made the data that much more valuable on the Dark Web, where it is currently being resold.

At 2.2 billion impacted users, it’s certain that this will be the year’s largest data breach. In fact, this one is likely to hold the world record for quite some time.

Facebook’s CEO, Mark Zuckerberg issued an apology to the company’s massive user base.

Mike Schroepfer, the company’s Chief Technology Officer, had this to say:

“Until today, people could enter another person’s phone number or email address into Facebook search to help find them.  This has been especially useful for finding your friends in languages which take more effort to type out a full name, or where many people have the same name.  However, malicious actors have also abused these features to scrape public profile information by submitting phone numbers or email addresses they already have through search and account recovery…we believe most people on Facebook could have had their public profile scraped in this way.”

Jason Manteiga

Jason J. Manteiga, Vice President of Olmec Systems, has been part of the company for over the past 20 years. He believes that having a great work environment and supportive team, is the ultimate key to success. Since being in the IT realm for over 25 years, Jason, along with Olmec Systems, has been on the Inc. 5000 “List of America’s Fastest Growing Private Companies” and Channel Futures MSP 501 “Top Managed Service Providers in North America,” along with other awards and nominations. Jason earned his Bachelor Degree in Information Systems from the New Jersey Institute of Technology. He also holds certifications in Microsoft MCSE, VMWare VCP, and Cisco CCNA. In his spare time, Jason is a contributor for The Center for Social & Legal Research (Privacy Exchange) and a member of the Morris County Chamber of Commerce. His hobbies include cycling and kayaking. He currently lives in New Jersey with his wife, two daughters and son.