Facebook uploaded 1.5 million users’ email contacts without permission

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

Business Insider has learned that since May 2016, the social networking company has collected the contact lists of 1.5 million users new to the social network. The Silicon Valley company says they were “unintentionally uploaded to Facebook,” and it is now deleting them. You can read Facebook’s full statement below.

The revelation comes after a security researcher noticed that Facebook was asking some users to enter their email passwords when they signed up for new accounts to verify their identities, in a move widely condemned by security experts. Business Insider then discovered that if you did enter your email password, a message popped up saying it was “importing” your contacts, without asking for permission first.

At the time, it wasn’t clear what was actually happening — but a Facebook spokesperson has now confirmed that 1.5 million people’s contacts were collected this way, and fed into Facebook’s systems, where they were used to build Facebook’s web of social connections and recommend friends to add. It’s not immediately clear if these contacts were also used for ad-targeting purposes.

The “importing contacts” dialogue box in question.
Screenshot/Rob Price

Facebook says that prior to May 2016, it offered an option to verify a user’s account and voluntarily upload their contacts at the same time. However, Facebook says, it changed the feature, and the text informing users that their contacts would be uploaded was deleted — but the underlying functionality was not. Facebook didn’t access the content of users’ emails, the spokesperson added.

The incident is the latest privacy misstep from the beleaguered technology giant, which has lurched from scandal to scandal over the last two years.

Facebook now plans to notify the 1.5 million users affected over the coming days, and delete their contacts from the company’s systems.

Facebook’s full statement, per a spokesperson:

“Last month we stopped offering email password verification as an option for people verifying their account when signing up for Facebook for the first time. When we looked into the steps people were going through to verify their accounts we found that in some cases people’s email contacts were also unintentionally uploaded to Facebook when they created their account. We estimate that up to 1.5 million people’s email contacts may have been uploaded. These contacts were not shared with anyone and we’re deleting them. We’ve fixed the underlying issue and are notifying people whose contacts were imported. People can also review and manage the contacts they share with Facebook in their settings.”


Got a tip? Contact this reporter via encrypted messaging app Signal at +1 (650) 636-6268 using a non-work phone, email at [email protected], Telegram or WeChat at robaeprice, or Twitter DM at @robaeprice. (PR pitches by email only, please.) You can also contact Business Insider securely via SecureDrop.


Source

more recommended stories

  • What is a late term abortion and why do women have them?

    Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg shut.

  • Tesla cuts prices of Model S, Model X as stock slumps

    Faced with a slumping stock price.

  • Michael Cohen implicates Sekulow, Giuliani, Trump Jr. in House testimony

    Michael Cohen has long been considered.

  • ‘Game of Thrones’ Isaac Hempstead Wright defends finale, Bran’s story line

    “Game of Thrones” star Isaac Hempstead.

  • Trump speaks out against parts of extreme anti-abortion laws

    President Donald Trump has distanced himself.

  • Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Wonder Woman comic cover upsets DC Comics

    She’s a 29 year-old congresswoman who.

  • Google suspended some business with Huawei after Trump blacklist

    NEW YORK (Reuters) – Alphabet Inc’s.

  • OnePlus 6T review: Why it’s better than expensive flagship phones

    The OnePlus 6T runs on the.

  • Tony Robbins recorded telling woman she was ‘lying’ about abuse

    According to an investigation from BuzzFeed.

  • Adidas is releasing another pair of ‘Game of Thrones’ sneakers

    Following up on their hit UltraBOOST.

  • How to make people like you immediately

    According to the “mere-exposure effect,” people.

  • Fifth grader who told classmates to stop doing the Nazi salute was pulled out of class

    An elementary school in Tennessee will.

  • Scientists develop light-activated bio-glue that could seal fatal wounds in seconds

    A new ‘biological glue’ developed by.

  • Joshua Jones speaks out after helping disarm STEM School Highlands Ranch shooter

    One of three students who helped.

  • Helicopter crashes into New York’s Hudson River

    A helicopter has crashed into the.

  • Apple’s Supreme Court loss could harm its App Store business

    Thanks to the Supreme Court, Apple.

  • How to allow pop-ups in Google Chrome from all sites or specific ones

    Pop-ups can be the scourge of.

  • Uber’s CEO sent an email to employees addressing its disastrous IPO, drawing on Amazon’s and Facebook’s rough starts (UBER)

    Getty/Spencer Platt Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi.

  • Watch Winnie the Pooh meet the royal family in a new video

    Disney is celebrating the birth of.

  • Times celebrities got accused of lip syncing

    One of the most legendary instances.

  • Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi is part of a family of impressive techies

    Led by CEO Dara Khosrowshahi, ride-sharing.

  • All the food Miss USA typically eats in a day

    On May 2, Cheslie Kryst was.

  • Where do billionaires live? Top 15 cities for billionaires worldwide

    Billionaires are increasingly becoming concentrated in.

  • House Democrats overplayed their hand to get the full Mueller report

    The war between the White House.

  • How to use Google Maps offline

    Where would we be without Google.

  • Anna Delvey: Fake heiress sentenced to prison for up to 12 years

    Socialite scammer Anna Delvey was sentenced.

  • Here’s everything the US military is sending to take on Iran

    The US military is sending a.

  • Advertising and Media Insider newsletter May 8

    The Amazon office in New York..

  • Trump’s tax info show his businesses lost so much money over a decade

    President Donald Trump’s tax information covering.

  • Bloody Israel-Gaza attacks signal a violent resurgence

    Deadly violence between Israel and Gaza.

  • Trump threatens 25% tariff, escalate China trade war

    President Donald Trump on Sunday threatened.

  • Plane makes emergency landing at Moscow airport, busts into flames

    41 people were killed after an.