Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 21 October 2019

Facebook took the email contacts of as many as 1.5 million new users

Company said it plans to delete the contact information

Sheryl Sandberg has said "we must do better to tackle abuse of social media". Reuters
Sheryl Sandberg has said "we must do better to tackle abuse of social media". Reuters

Less than a month after Facebook pledged to stop collecting users' personal email passwords, the world's biggest social media company has come under scrutiny again for “unintentionally uploading” the email contacts of 1.5 million new users since May 2016.

In March, Facebook stopped offering email password verification as an option for people who signed up for the first time, the company said. However, in as many as 1.5 million times, email contacts of new users were uploaded to Facebook when they created their account, the company said.

“These contacts were not shared with anyone and we're deleting them. We've fixed the underlying issue and are notifying people whose contacts were imported. People can also review and manage the contacts they share with Facebook in their settings,” a Facebook spokesperson told The National.

Business Insider first reported that the social media company harvested email contacts of the users without their knowledge or consent when they opened their accounts.

When an email password was entered, a message popped up saying it was “importing” contacts without asking for permission first, the report said.

Facebook has come under fire for a slew of privacy-related issues recently, including exposing passwords of millions of users to its employees on internal systems that stored the private data in a readable format.

Last year, the social media giant was embroiled in the Cambridge Analytica saga, a British political consulting firm that obtained personal data of millions of Facebook profiles without their consent for clients, a whistleblower told media, leading to US congressional hearings where Facebook founder and chief executive Mark Zuckerberg testified.

Lawmakers in the EU and US have also been examining how the social media company harvests personal data of its users and for the presence of hate speech, misinformation and data portability on the platform.

Facebook's share price is up 31.7 per cent so far this year.

Updated: April 18, 2019 08:17 PM

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