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Facebook Wants to ‘Normalize’ Its Data Scraping Leaks

Facebook is looking to take the heat off itself for the recent leak of 533 million records scraped from its site by normalizing that type of incident....
Facebook Wants to ‘Normalize’ Its Data Scraping Leaks
Written by Matt Milano

Facebook is looking to take the heat off itself for the recent leak of 533 million records scraped from its site by normalizing that type of incident.

Scraping involves pulling data from a target website, often using automated means. In most cases, it’s not technically a major hack since the data is available on the site. However, many membership-based sites, such as Facebook, can take measures to prevent scraping.

In the case of Facebook’s issue that led to 533 million records being scraped and later released online, it was the result of a vulnerability that allowed the data to be scraped. Facebook was widely criticized for its response, essentially taking the approach that since this was an old issue, it wasn’t a big deal — despite the fact the data was just released into the wild.

Facebook has now given users even greater reason to be upset, thanks to a memo it accidentally sent to a journalist for Belgian publication Data News (via CNET).

“Longer term, though, we expect more scraping incidents and think its important to both frame this as a broad industry issue and normalize the fact that this activity happens regularly,” said the email.

The full content of the email was even more appalling.

Essentially, Facebook is complaining about the negative coverage it has received over the incident and its response, and is anticipating people’s interest waning and the coverage eventually stopping. Long-term, the company plans to write a post about its anti-scraping activities, and help “normalize the fact that this activity happens regularly.”

Unfortunately, Facebook’s response is anything but normal — and doesn’t even come close to acceptable or responsible. As one of the single biggest purveyors of people’s data, the company has a responsibility to do a lot more than take the approach: “Oh well…stuff happens, data gets scraped, there’s not much we can do about…so deal with it.”

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