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Facebook Sues Ukrainian Citizen Accused of Selling Stolen Data of 178 Million Users

Urian B., Tech Times

(Photo : Image from Unsplash Website) Facebook Sues Ukrainian Citizen Accused of Selling Stolen Data of 178 Million Users

Facebook is suing a Ukrainian citizen that the company alleges was selling the stolen user data. The filed lawsuit is directly against the man accused for selling the stolen data on a marketplace specifically designed for stolen data.

Facebook Files Lawsuit Against Alexandra Alexandrovich Solonchenko

It was reported by The Record that Facebook actually filed a lawsuit in the official US Direct Court for the Northern District of California on October 21, 2021. The company is now alleging in the filing that the defendant, known as Alexandra Alexandrovich Solonchenko, abused the previous Facebook Messenger feature back from January 2018 up to September 2019.

This was done in order to scrape information directly about 178 million users from its own servers. The new feature that is currently in question is reportedly called Contact Importer. It was stated that between June 2015 and September 2019, Facebook noted in the filing, Messenger Contact Import actually included a functionality that would be able to return one-to-one list of any particular users that matched their own phone numbers that were uploaded from the user’s address book on a user’s own mobile device called the CI matching function.

Facebook Noted Computer Program was Used

According to PCMag, Facebook notes that Solonchenko actually used a particular computer program in order to deliver automated requests to Facebook computers. This is while pretending to be a number of different Android devices all connected to Facebook’s own Messenger mobile app. Facebook has also reportedly been found giving academic researchers incomplete data.

This is in order for him to abuse Contact Importer to collect certain people’s Facebook IDs as well as phone numbers. The reported data was then sold on a particular well-known crime forum. This also is not the first time that the Contact Importer was actually identified as the source of the supposed Facebook user personal information.

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533 Million People Data Leak

The article reports that there were previous leaks of names, locations, phone numbers, and other information of 533 million people in a whopping 106 countries back in April 2021. The data was reportedly scraped by abusing the said Contact Importer. A new study actually showed that Facebook misinformation gets more clicks than actual factual news.

The actual contact importer was then changed a number of times in order to combat certain scraping attempts. Facebook notes that it actually set limits for the number of contacts that can reportedly be uploaded through Messenger Contact Importer as well as the frequency at which those particular phone numbers could actually be submitted back in February 2018.

It was also reportedly noted that as of September 2019, it will no longer return one-to-one lists of different matched phone numbers. It was then noted that Facebook states in the filing that it is looking for injunctions directly against Solonchenko in order to prevent him from accessing its own products or even selling info from them.

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Written by Urian B.

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