Another day, another investigation for Facebook to deal with.
New York Attorney General Letitia James announced that her office is opening an investigation into Facebook over its scraping of millions users’ email contacts lists.
“Facebook has repeatedly demonstrated a lack of respect for consumers’ information while at the same time profiting from mining that data,” James said in a statement.
The investigation comes after it was reported earlier this month that Facebook’s email verification process, which asked some users for their email passwords, resulted in the company “unintentionally” scraping the email contacts lists of 1.5 million users. Hundreds of millions of people potentially had their information accessed by the company as a result, according to James.
Facebook claims 1.5M contact databases were harvested by its email verification process, but the total number of people whose information was improperly obtained may be hundreds of millions.
It’s time Facebook be held accountable for how it handles consumers’ personal info.
— NY AG James (@NewYorkStateAG) April 25, 2019
“We’re in touch with the New York State attorney general’s office and are responding to their questions on this matter,” a Facebook spokesperson said in an emailed statement. The company previously said the information wasn’t shared and was deleted when it was discovered.
James’ office said in a press release, though, that “reports indicate that Facebook proceeded to access those user’s contacts and upload all of those contacts to Facebook to be used for targeted advertising.”
For Facebook, the investigation is yet another legal headache. The company told investors one day earlier that it expects to pay the FTC up to $5 billion as the result of the agency’s investigation into its privacy policies. And Canadian privacy officials just issued a strong rebuke of their own. The company is also dealing with an SEC investigation and a criminal probe into its data sharing.