Facebook leak reveals they’ve been collecting private phone numbers and email addresses

From ZDNet:

Friday Facebook announced the fix of a bug it said inadvertently exposed the private information of over six million users when Facebook’s previously unknown shadow profiles accidentally merged with user accounts in data history record requests…

The personal information leaked by the bug is information that had not been given to Facebook by the users – it is data Facebook has been compiling on its users behind closed doors, without their consent…

Facebook appears to be obtaining users’ offsite email address and phone numbers and attempting to match them to other accounts. It appears that the invisible collected information is then being stored in each user’s ‘shadow profile’ that is somehow attached to accounts…

Facebook explained in its post that the bug shared information about a user that had been scraped from a source other than the personal data the user had ever entered into Facebook about themselves…

This data is being gathered by Facebook about individuals through their friends’ information about them – harvested when a user grants Facebook address book or contact list access…

The social network said that it was harvesting and matching the offsite-sourced data to user profiles – creating these shadow profiles – “to better create friend suggestions” for the user…

According to Reuters, who spoke with a Facebook representative, the data was being exposed in this manner for about a year.

ZDNet received an email response from Facebook that makes them look even worse:

In an email today from Facebook Policy Communications, ZDNet learned that concern about collection, storage and shadow profiling of contact data is the sole fault of users who failed to read (or remember) the Facebook policies they agreed to when they were getting started on Facebook.

The ZDNet article contains much more information than excerpted here and is definitely worth reading.

For some reason, those who want to rule the world, aka “they”, have a fascination with social connections. Perhaps such information provides more ways for them to harass and control. The fact that Facebook is collecting this info for them is annoying but not surprising.

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