The exposure of Facebook's data also illustrated a hard reality: Once accessed or obtained, personal data can live forever.
The first set of records appear to belong to a Mexican media company, Cultura Colectiva, which improperly stored data about people's friends, likes, photos, music, location check-ins and groups on a public Amazon server. "These two situations speak to the inherent problem of mass information collection: the data doesn't naturally go away, and a derelict storage location may or may not be given the attention it requires", UpGuard wrote today, adding that even though Mark Zuckerberg committed previous year to better locking down Facebook, data on its users has already "been spread far beyond the bounds of what Facebook can control today".
As UpGuard points out, despite the fact that Facebook has promised a renewed sense of urgency regarding its user's data, especially following the catastrophic Cambridge Analytica leak previous year, there is only so much that the company can control at this point.
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The company later announced changes to the platform aimed at protecting user data. Pollock said that UpGuard in January tried to notify the organization that its cache of Facebook information had been left open for anyone to download but ultimately received no reply. The other set, linked to a defunct Facebook app called At the Pool, was significantly smaller, but contained plaintext passwords for 22,000 users. While that may not inherently put Facebook users at risk, it's bad news for anyone who happened to use the same password for At the Pool and anything else, including Facebook - a practice that is still unfortunately all too common among internet users.
Even though that once-public data is now properly secured, this isn't a good look for Facebook.
The large dataset was secured on Wednesday after Bloomberg, which first reported the leak, contacted Facebook. In recent months, the company also has been faulted for leaving millions of users' Facebook passwords stored in plain text. "Data about Facebook users has been spread far beyond the bounds of what Facebook can control today". "What ties them together is that they both contain data about Facebook users, describing their interests, relationships, and interactions, that were available to third party developers".