Social media giant Facebook has admitted that it might have “unintentionally uploaded” the email contacts of 1.5 million new users since May of 2016, according to a report from Reuters.
The admission is the latest in a series of privacy issues for the company, including the revelation that a glitch exposed millions of user passwords in a readable format, in an internal system viewable by employees.
The company also dealt with the fallout from disclosure that Cambridge Analytica, a political consulting firm in the U.K., got personal information from millions of Facebook profiles without permission.
Regarding the latest issue, Facebook said it stopped offering email password verification as an option for first-time signups in March. However, there were cases of people’s email contacts being uploaded to Facebook when accounts were created.
“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 are deleting them,” Facebook told Reuters.
Another media outlet also reported Facebook had been harvesting email addresses without knowledge or consent. When a user would input an email password, the company would import contacts without asking for permission.
Facebook has been under the microscope of lawmakers around the world for its perceived privacy issues as well as some other concerns, including data ownership and the proliferation of hate speech.
During elections, Facebook was asked by lawmakers to make sure the platform wasn’t being used to spread lies or falsehoods during the election.
Despite all of the negative publicity, Facebook is as popular and profitable as ever, so advertisers are not eager to leave the platform.
Facebook said its total ad revenue grew 38 percent in 2018 to $55 billion, while net digital ad revenue in the entire country grew 36 percent, to $23.66 billion, according to eMarketer. Meanwhile, the company’s net digital ad revenue grew from 19.8 percent in 2017 to 21.8 percent in 2018, and is predicted to reach 22.9 percent by 2021. Also, Facebook’s monthly user base grew by 9 percent to 2.32 billion last year.