News & Politics

Massive Facebook Breach Allowed Hackers to Access Private Messages, Other Personal Data

Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg at Facebook headquarters in Palo Alto, Calif. (AP Photo/Paul Sakuma, File)

This past week 50 million Facebook accounts were breached by hackers who were able to take advantage of a Facebook feature to take over the users’ accounts. Another 40 million users who may also be at risk were identified. Those whose accounts were affected will be notified by Facebook and asked to sign out and in again.

It’s the largest data leak in Facebook’s history and the worst kind of breach because Facebook allows users to stay logged in over a long period of time. This allows hackers to sign into the victims’ other accounts that use Facebook Login.

Mark Zuckerberg, the CEO and “apologizer in chief,” said, “I’m glad we found this and fixed the vulnerability. But it definitely is an issue that this happened in the first place. I think this underscores the attacks that our community and our services face.”

According to Recode, “These hackers had access to everything from personal data — name, gender, hometown — to really personal data, like users’ private messages. It’s unclear if the hackers took advantage of that access, Facebook execs say, but that’s not the point.”

Facebook has been on the defensive for over a year after being criticized for sharing users’ data with app makers, including a company linked to the Trump campaign, and for sharing the entries in a user’s contact lists with advertisers. Now they’re under fire for allowing millions of their users’ data to be stolen. Facebook is also fighting regulators who have lodged complaints about the company violating personal privacy laws, particularly in the EU, and being questioned for the algorithms used to favor or suppress stories.

Zuckerberg has come under increasing criticism for not showing much concern about all of these breaches and simply continuing to apologize. He’s gone from being one of the most highly respected entrepreneurs in Silicon Valley to becoming more and more despised and ridiculed. His COO, Sheryl Sandberg, who once was a highly regarded COO in tech and the author of the book Lean In, has nearly disappeared from sight and is rarely heard.

Facebook has become a serious menace because of the huge number of users, the lack of controls, the one-man rule by Zuckerberg, and the company’s basic concept that now needs to be questioned.