California, Sep 5 : Social networking giant Facebook has confirmed that hundreds of millions of its users' phone numbers, including those in the United States, the United Kingdom and Vietnam, were leaked to the Internet, The Guardian newspaper reported on Thursday.
On Wednesday, technology portal TechCrunch reported that more than 419 million Facebook user records were temporarily available on a public database, which has since been taken down. According to TechCrunch, 133 million users from the United States, 18 million from the United Kingdom and 50 million from Vietnam were affected.
Following this report, Facebook's spokesperson confirmed the leak and said the company was looking into how the information was obtained, as cited by The Guardian. She also claimed that it was not 419 million phone numbers but only 210 million, with the rest just being duplicates.
The company believes the leaked data was old and would have been removed before Facebook's policy change in 2018, when it responded to a number of scandals with new policies on targeting transparency that directly impacted its users and advertisers.
"This dataset is old and appears to have information obtained before we made changes last year to remove people’s ability to find others using their phone numbers. The dataset has been taken down and we have seen no evidence that Facebook accounts were compromised," the newspaper quoted the spokesperson as saying.
One of the greatest scandals Facebook became entangled in last year involved personal data of about 50 million of its users being harvested by consulting firm Cambridge Analytica via a special app without their permission. The information was allegedly used to help target political advertising, including on behalf of the presidential campaign of Donald Trump. (UNI)