April 18, 2019

Unintentionally uploaded 1.5 million people’s email contacts sans their consent, says Facebook


According to Facebook, it has "unintentionally uploaded" the email contacts of 1.5 million new Facebook users since May 2016.

Recently, a security researcher noticed that Facebook was asking some new users to provide their email passwords when they signed up. Security experts widely condemned the move.

It was then discovered by Business Insider that if you entered your email password, a message popped up saying it was "importing" your contacts without asking for permission first.

When questioned, Facebook disclosed to Business Insider that it "unintentionally" grabbed 1.5 million users' data, and is now deleting it.

The email contacts of 1.5 million users were harvested by Facebook without their knowledge or consent when they opened their accounts.

The Silicon Valley company said that the contact data was "unintentionally uploaded to Facebook," and that it was now deleting it.

The contacts had been collected and were being fed into Facebook’s systems where they would be used to improve Facebook’s advertisement targeting, build its web of social connections and recommend friends to add.

Before May 2016, Facebook was offering an option to verify a user’s account using their email password and voluntarily uploading the contacts at the same time, said a Facebook spokesperson.

The spokesperson said that the company however changed the feature, and the text informing users that their contacts would be uploaded was deleted but the underlying functionality was not.

While the spokesperson said that Facebook didn't access the content of users' emails, fact remains that users' contacts can still be highly sensitive data (revealing who people are communicating with and connecting to).

This isn’t the first time the tech giant has stoked controversy as far as data privacy is concerned.

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