Security & Fraud

Data Firm Exposes 48M Social Media User Profiles

LocalBlox, a small data firm, created personal profiles of 48 million people using data from the likes of Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Zillow and others without getting the consent of the users.

ZDNet reported that the company said it “automatically crawls, discovers, extracts, indexes, maps and augments data in a variety of formats from the web and from exchange networks.” Since its launch in 2010, the company said it has been focused on gathering data that is publicly accessible, such as social media networks, so that it can create profiles.

Earlier in 2018, LocalBlox left profile data on an Amazon S3 storage unit without a password, which enabled anyone to download the information. The file, according to the report, listed 48 million individual records that were scraped from public profiles and put together to create the profiles.

The latest revelation comes as Facebook is reeling from a data breach in which Cambridge Analytica accessed the data on 87 million users without their consent. Cambridge Analytica was working on President Donald Trump’s election bid at the time, which has led to widespread outcry, investigations both in the U.S. and U.K. and calls for more regulation of social media and technology companies.

Facebook’s CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, also testified before Congress for two days last week. The scandal has also sparked calls for more transparency into what Facebook does with consumers’ data and how users can better protect themselves.

Despite Facebook’s data scandal with Cambridge Analytica, the number of people using social media platforms increased by more than 100 million during the first quarter of 2018. According to an analysis by The Next Web, as of the end of March, there were 3.3 billion social media users around the world.

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