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Surprise: Facebook just leaked data from more than 267 million US users

Published Dec 20th, 2019 8:22PM EST
Facebook leak
Image: Jenny Kane/AP/Shutterstock

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Two bits of Facebook news that both popped at week’s end should underscore how much awesome power the biggest social network in the world still wields as the decade draws to a close. Not only that, but how expansive its ambitions remain — and, correspondingly, how embarrassingly bad the company still is, after all this time, at handling the privacy and security of its users’ data.

The two pieces of news we’re referring to are as follows:

1) More than a quarter of a billion US Facebook users, unfortunately, have had their data (names and phone numbers) exposed in a newly reported Facebook data leak.

2) Also, Facebook is working on building an operating system of its own so that the company can wean itself off of reliance on, primarily, Google

Let’s take a closer look at both of those items, starting with the first.

According to two data security sources — the tech website Comparitech and data security researcher Bob Diachenko — more than 267 million Facebook users mostly in the US had their data left exposed and available online in a database for about two weeks. That database was accessible to anyone even without a password and included things like names, Facebook IDs, and phone numbers. A report posted by Comparitech said that the database could be used to target spam messages at affected users and even try to scam them.

Unfortunately, this is par for the course at the social network. Recall, for example, that it was only a few months ago (back in September) that similar data was exposed in several Facebook databases containing some 419 million records.

As for the second bit of news, meanwhile, it’s somewhat related. If Facebook has so much trouble convincing people to trust it now, how would you feel about an operating system this super-leaky social network has built from the ground up? This news comes via The Information, which reports that Facebook has tapped a co-author of Windows NT, Mark Lucovsky, to lead the charge to build this OS.

“We really want to make sure the next generation has space for us,” Facebook’s hardware VP Andrew Bosworth was quoted as saying. “We don’t think we can trust the marketplace or competitors to ensure that’s the case. And so we’re gonna do it ourselves.”

At some point, you write stories like these long enough and there’s a resignation that sets in. Such that, the other thing Facebook is “gonna do ourselves” is … basically, whatever it wants to do. A critical mass will keep using it. These data issues will keep happening. Rinse, repeat. Rinse, repeat. You get the idea.

Andy Meek Trending News Editor

Andy Meek is a reporter based in Memphis who has covered media, entertainment, and culture for over 20 years. His work has appeared in outlets including The Guardian, Forbes, and The Financial Times, and he’s written for BGR since 2015. Andy's coverage includes technology and entertainment, and he has a particular interest in all things streaming.

Over the years, he’s interviewed legendary figures in entertainment and tech that range from Stan Lee to John McAfee, Peter Thiel, and Reed Hastings.

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