February 3, 2023

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Meta fined $276 million over a Facebook data leak involving more than 533 million users

Discovered by Insider, the leaked information was published on an online hacking forum and included the full names, phone numbers, locations and dates of birth of users on the platform from 2018 to 2019. At the time, Meta said the bad actor had the information obtained through a vulnerability that the company fixed in 2019 and that this was the same information contained in a previous leak reported by Motherboard in January 2021.

This is the third fine the DPC has imposed on Meta this year. In March, the DPC fined Meta $18.6 million for poor record keeping related to a series of data breaches in 2018 that exposed the information of up to 30 million Facebook users. European regulators fined Meta $402 million in September after an investigation into Instagram’s handling of teenage data.

Meta was fined nearly $700 million by the DPC in 2022 — and that doesn’t include the $267 million fine that WhatsApp imposed last year for breaching European data protection laws. In a statement received from Newstalk reporter Jes Kellysaid an unidentified meta-speaker:

We made changes to our systems during the time in question, including removing the ability to scrape our features in this way using phone numbers. Unauthorized data scraping is unacceptable and against our rules and we will continue to work with our colleagues on this industry challenge. We are carefully reviewing this decision.

Meta did not immediately respond to The Verge’s request for comment. The company highlighted what it is doing to combat data scraping in a blog post last year, noting that it employs its external data breach (EDM) team to detect, block, and prevent scraping.