All posts in “social media”

Talk media and TED2019 key takeaways with TechCrunch’s Anthony Ha

Anthony just returned from Vancouver, where he was covering the TED2019 conference — a much-parodied gathering where VCs, executives and other bigwigs gather to exchange ideas.

This year, Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey got the biggest headlines, but the questions raised in his onstage interview kept popping up throughout the week: How has social media warped our democracy? How can the big online platforms fight back against abuse and misinformation? And what is the Internet good for, anyway? Wednesday at 11:00 am PT, Anthony will recap the five-day event’s most interesting talks and provocative ideas with Extra Crunch members on a conference call.

Tune in to dig into what happened onstage and off and ask Anthony any and all things media.

To listen to this and all future conference calls, become a member of Extra Crunch. Learn more and try it for free.

Facebook now says its password leak affected ‘millions’ of Instagram users

Facebook has confirmed its password-related security incident last month now affects “millions” of Instagram users, not “tens of thousands” as first thought.

The social media giant confirmed the new information in its updated blog post, first published on March 21.

“We discovered additional logs of Instagram passwords being stored in a readable format,” the company said. “We now estimate that this issue impacted millions of Instagram users. We will be notifying these users as we did the others.”

“Our investigation has determined that these stored passwords were not internally abused or improperly accessed,” the updated post said, but the company still has not said how it made that determination.

The social media giant did not say how many millions were affected, however.

Last month, Facebook admitted it had inadvertently stored “hundreds of millions” of user account passwords in plaintext for years, said to have dated as far back as 2012. The company said the unencrypted passwords were stored in logs accessible to some 2,000 engineers and developers. The data was not leaked outside of the company, however. Facebook still hasn’t explained how the bug occurred.

Facebook posted the update at 10am ET — an hour before the Special Counsel’s report into Russian election interference was set to be published.

When reached, spokesperson Liz Bourgeois said Facebook does not have “a precise number” yet to share, and declined to say exactly when the additional discovery was made.

Facebook accidentally scraped the email contacts of 1.5 million users

Facebook's password-related troubles continue.
Facebook’s password-related troubles continue.

Image: Niall Carson/PA Images via Getty Images

Facebook has been embroiled in another password-related mess.

As reported by Business Insider, the social media giant inadvertently uploaded the email contacts of 1.5 million users who had just signed up to the network.

The issue stems from when Facebook asked new users for their email passwords at sign-up, an odd request which was spotted a few weeks ago by a cybersecurity researcher by the name of “e-sushi.” 

Facebook ended the practice shortly after it was called out on it, but it turns out users who had entered their passwords likely had their contacts scraped anyway without their permission. The company said it is in the process of deleting the contacts.

“Last month we stopped offering email password verification as an option for people verifying their account when signing up for Facebook for the first time,” a Facebook spokesperson said an a statement to Mashable.

“When we looked into the steps people were going through to verify their accounts we found that in some cases people’s email contacts were also unintentionally uploaded to Facebook when they created their account. We estimate that up to 1.5 million people’s email contacts may have been uploaded.

“These contacts were not shared with anyone and we’re deleting them. We’ve fixed the underlying issue and are notifying people whose contacts were imported. People can also review and manage the contacts they share with Facebook in their settings.”

It follows the revelation that Facebook stored hundreds of millions of passwords in plain text, although the company said there was no evidence the passwords were “abused or improperly accessed.”

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Facebook’s Portal will now surveil your living room for half the price

No, you’re not misremembering the details from that young adult dystopian fiction you’re reading — Facebook really does sell a video chat camera adept at tracking the faces of you and your loved ones. Now, you too can own Facebook’s poorly timed foray into social hardware for the low, low price of $99. That’s a pretty big price drop considering that the Portal, introduced less than six months ago, debuted at $199.

Unfortunately for whoever toiled away on Facebook’s hardware experiment, the device launched into an extremely Facebook-averse, notably privacy-conscious market. Those are pretty serious headwinds. Of course, plenty of regular users aren’t concerned about privacy — but they certainly should be.

As we found in our review, Facebook’s Portal is actually a pretty competent device with some thoughtful design touches. Still, that doesn’t really offset the unsettling idea of inviting a company notorious for disregarding user privacy into your home, the most intimate setting of all.

Facebook’s premium Portal+ with a larger, rotating 1080p screen is still priced at $349 when purchased individually, but if you buy a Portal+ with at least one other Portal, it looks like you can pick it up for $249. Facebook advertised the Portal discount for Mother’s Day and the sale ends on May 8. We reached out to the company to ask how sales were faring and if the holiday discounts would stick around for longer and we’ll update when we hear back.