Facebook sues Ukrainian hacker for selling millions of users’ data – KyivPost


Facebook is suing a Ukrainian national suspected of having collected and sold information from 178 million users of the platform in 2018-2019, according to US publication Insider.

According to court documents, the hacker accessed and sold user credentials and phone numbers, in violation of Facebook’s terms of service.

Data scraping, also known as web scraping, is the process of mass importing information from a website into a spreadsheet or local file saved on a computer. This is one of the most efficient ways to get data from the web and in some cases funnel it to another website.

Social Platform Policy officially prohibits illegal use of user data, automated data collection, and uploading user data to directories without Facebook approval.

Ukrainian hacker Alexander Solonchenko allegedly exploited a feature of Facebook Messenger called “contact importer”, which allows users to synchronize their phone address books and see which of their friends have Facebook Messenger.

The data was technically accessible to the public, but he sold this information on online forums for personal use under the online pseudonym “Solomane,” according to the lawsuit filed. October 28 against him.

The social platform is now asking judges to place a temporary injunction against Solontchenko to prevent him from accessing Facebook sites or selling their data.

Facebook also intends to seek an undisclosed amount of damages, alleging that Solonchenko was a prolific online hacker.

According to the lawsuit, he has already sold stolen or scraped information from major Ukrainian banks and delivery services, and even a French data analysis company.

Facebook discovered the accused’s fraudulent activity after linking his “Solomane” username to contact information uploaded to job portals.

This is not the first time that hackers have used this feature to extract data from the website. In 2019, another user collected 533 million phone numbers from Facebook users and sold them online.

Kyiv Post technology coverage is sponsored by Ciklum, ELEKS, Intellia, Intetics, Iterates, Parimatch technology, SimCorp, SoftServe and TECHIIA. The content is independent of the donors.

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