On the weekend of April 3rd, 2021, the personal data of about 533 million people from 106 countries was posted on a hacking forum. The identity of the offender remains unknown to date. But it is speculated that as it was posted on a low level-hacking forum, the user meant to mock the authorities behind the online giants such as Facebook.
The said personal data, which was leaked on the hacking site, consisted of personal phone numbers, full names, emails, location, and biographical information. The grim part was that this information was primarily from countries thought of as technologically advanced!
If the demographics of the great Facebook data breach of 2021 mentioned above did not completely cover the impact of this incident on the internet, we have something more to add.
As mentioned before, the data breach came from countries that are one of the foremost in the field of science and technology. Among the 533 million leaked personal accounts, over 32 million records were from the USA, 11 million from the UK, and 6 million from India.
And rightly so, this led to an outcry from Facebook and internet users from all over the world and increased people’s suspicion and distrust from hyperpersonal sites such as Facebook.
People all over the world could not help but feel vulnerable and exposed. The people whose information was leaked held the founder, Mark Zuckerberg, accountable and demanded an apology.
However, the team of critiques and data experts labeled Facebook as “evasive” in regards to dodging this whole incident with deflection of blame and lack of apology. More of what Facebook had to say is discussed in the subsequent sections.
Now that we know what exactly happened in the great data breach of 2021, we can begin asking the fundamental questions: are we prone to such cyber-attacks? And how safe is our private information online?
It goes without saying that almost everyone who has access to the internet is on Facebook or at least one of the sites affiliated with it. And perhaps, most of our sensitive information and data is in the hands of the cynical servers of these giants.
But why does Facebook collect your data, one might ask? It is the source for the most effective and modern form of advertisement.
Facebook automatically filters out all of your likes and wants on the basis of your searches, reactions, and perhaps, messages. Then the servers display the custom ads of your liking and want based on your geographical location. On paper, it is a win-win situation for capitalism.
This filtering and processing of delicate and personal information are so rapid and precise that people find it scary or surreal, to say the least.
But what about the basic human right of autonomy and confidentiality? Thankfully, the government had the same concerns and held the chairperson Mark Zuckerberg accountable in the famous senate interview. The following is what Facebook has to say in regards to data theft and information withholding.
Facebook has remained dubious about the whole turn of events. Most of the statements given by Facebook’s spokesperson in various interviews revolve around shifting the blame instead of their own lack of competence.
In one interview, the spokesperson deflected the whole issue by suggesting that other websites such as LinkedIn and Clubhouse also faced data scraping issues. While in others, they ensured people that Facebook would strengthen its servers to make data scraping harder and pursue people who try to.
In other instances, Facebook tried to dilute the situation by suggesting that the leaked information was “old” and that the data released was already publicly available online.
According to an ethical hacker, Inti De Ceukelaire, Facebook was already warned about a data breach back in 2019 and that “the company cares more about its reputation than its user’s information”.
Undoubtedly, online mega-platforms like Facebook and Google have become an integral part of our daily lives. They let us interact with people on a scale unknown to previous generations. However, the cost of it is our identity itself.
In this world of ever-exceeding progression, it is important to make ourselves aware of our online presence and how each platform works.
Every person should be able to know what to share online and what to hide. Awareness is the only viable solution in ever-exceeding technology.