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PR + Social

FB Data Breach

Facebook's data breach: The fallout, the future

PR + Social / 6.1.21 / By Michael McGinnis

A million hacked Facebook accounts is bad. A half billion hacked Facebook accounts is … WAY WORSE.

What's going on?

Earlier this year, Facebook encountered yet another hacking conundrum. Actually, it was worse than that. Conundrum? More like a conunSYMPHONY OF PRIVACY DESTRUCTION. (Listen, I’m just a man with a computer trying to convey the situation through C+ wordplay and metaphors.)

OK, let me put it this way: Remember Cambridge Analytica? That hacking scandal from 2015? Big news, right? That involved 87 million accounts.

This Facebook hack? 533 million accounts.

If Cambridge Analytica is the tiny stuffed animal you win for participating in one of those carnival games, this Facebook hack is the grand champion six-foot teddy bear that causes every kid to point with mouths agape shouting “IT’S GIGANTIC, MOMMY!!!”

It’s like that.

But how?

So what happened, exactly? Well, you know when an app asks you if you want to add friends from your contact list? That’s called a contact importer feature and it can get ahold of all sorts of info. That feature is what was hacked, resulting in boatloads of user data getting scraped by the hack.

Names, locations, birthdates, bios, email addresses, your handwritten middle school diaries—pretty much all of that info (save the diaries) ended up in the hands of these hackers. And with 533 million compromised accounts, chances are high that your account, or maybe even your business, could be one of them.

What to do

But we’re not here to feel sorry for ourselves, nor are we here to hurl obscenities willy-nilly into the high heavens in hopes that they’ll land on Zuckerberg’s dome piece (although that’s your prerogative). No, we’re here to get you and your businesses protected!

Here’s what to do:

Step 1. Go to, type in your email or phone number and find out if you’ve been hacked.

Step 2. If you've been hacked, you’re likely to get some unsolicited outreach. Fortunately, I’ve made this quick cheat sheet for you.

If an unknown number reaches out to you with a …

Phone call – Don’t answer it

Voicemail – Don’t answer it

Text message – Don’t answer it

Email – Don’t answer it

Direct message – Don’t answer it

Friend request – Don’t answer it

Piece of candy – Don’t answer it (don’t eat it)

Step 3. Change your passwords and consider a password manager like LastPass or 1Password.

Step 4. Turn on two-factor authentication.

Step 5. Rest a little easier because you’re way more secure.

Final thoughts

Listen, I get it. Facebook offers an easy, convenient way to connect with others and consume content that you enjoy. For marketers, it offers an ocean of opportunities for advertising to individuals. But it comes with risks.

Anytime consumers are providing their information for access to free platforms or content, they should assume that their data is the currency in that transaction. With any transaction, the possibility of a data breech is an unfortunate reality. Within the paid media field, this lack of data security from such a large entity like Facebook may drive less consumer engagement with these platforms, which would impact the advertising opportunity on these platforms in the future.

—Malorie Benjamin, VP of Media Services

This is an unfortunate reality of the world we live in. The tailored, personalized online experiences that companies can now offer come at the risk of personal information being exposed in a data breach. Data security needs to be a top priority for all business. No exceptions. Rebuilding customer trust is much more expensive than taking the necessary data security precautions.

—Chris Grant, Data Strategy & Analytics Supervisor

As marketers, we know that data drives decisions. But a big part of that is making sure your data is secure. Facebook may have been the subject of the latest megahack, but it surely won’t be the last. Taking the proper precautionary steps to keep your data, your client data and all other data safe is the only surefire way to avoid the next security scramble.

Now get out there and start changing those passwords! (… and if you need help, I’ve got dozens from my time spent crafting AOL away messages)

Looking to up your cyber security and/or data game? We have dedicated teams for both. Email to get started.


Michael McGinnis

Mike McGinnis is DS+CO’s content manager and social media enthusiast with a proven record of creating big ideas that generate real impact.