Facebook been revealing more information about what data it collects and why following the data misuse scandal that broke a couple of weeks ago. It has also taken some concrete steps to give users more control over their data and the company has even added more clarity to its terms of service and data policies for this purpose. A feature that has now been disabled was used to scrape publication information of the majority of Facebook’s 2 billion users, says CEO Mark Zuckerberg.


The feature that Zuckerberg was talking about in a call with reporters is one that allowed users to search for other users by their phone number or email address instead of their name. “We’ve seen some scraping,” Zuckerberg said, adding that “I would assume if you had that setting turned on that someone at some point has access to your public information in some way.”

Facebook’s chief technology officer Mike Schroepfer previously revealed this possibility in a post on the company’s blog. He mentioned that this feature has been very useful for those who want to find their friends in languages where it takes more effort to type out a full name. He pointed out that this feature makes up 7 percent of all searches in Bangladesh.

Schroepfer acknowledged that malicious actors have abused this feature to scrape public profile information by using phone numbers and email addresses that they already have through search and account recovery.

“Given the scale and sophistication of the activity we’ve seen, we believe most people on Facebook could have had their public profile scraped in this way,” he said. Facebook has now disabled this feature and is now making changes to account recovery to reduce the risk of scraping.

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