Facebook said on Tuesday that hackers used a feature designed to help people easily find friends using contact lists and stole the personal data of about 500 million users in 2019.

Last weekend, a large amount of information about more than 530 million Facebook users was shared on a hacker forum, prompting leading social networks to explain what happened and calling on people to be vigilant about privacy settings.

Mike Clark, director of product management at Facebook, said in an article: “It is important to understand that malicious actors are not hacking our systems, but by capturing them from our platform before September 2019. Take these data to obtain this data.”

“This is another example of the ongoing confrontational relationship between technology companies and fraudsters, who deliberately undermine platform policies in order to obtain Internet services.”

According to US media reports, these data include phone numbers, dates of birth, and email addresses, some of which seem to be up to date.

According to Facebook, the stolen data did not include passwords or financial data.

Search is a strategy that involves the use of automated software to collect information that is publicly shared online.

Alon Gal, chief technology officer of Hudson Locke cybercrime intelligence company, said on Twitter on Saturday: “All 533,000,000 Facebook records are leaked for free.”

He condemned what he called Facebook’s “absolute negligence.”

Gale said on Twitter: “Bad actors will definitely use this information for social engineering, fraud, hacking and marketing.”

Clark urged members of social networks to check their privacy settings to control what information can be seen publicly, and to strengthen account security through two-factor authentication.

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This is not the first time that Facebook has been controversial due to the leakage or usage data from the world’s largest social network (with nearly 2 billion users).

In 2016, the scandal surrounding Cambridge Analytica, a British consulting company, used the personal data of millions of Facebook users to target political ads, casting a shadow over social networks and their handling of private information.

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