What do the latest Facebook revelations mean for the company’s political future?.

Facebook announced a data breach in late September — 50 million users were thought to have been hacked. On Friday, the social network says 20 million fewer accounts were breached than originally thought. But this will still be a crucial turning point.

For the 30 million users, the data accessed was highly sensitive. The data thieves stole a wide range of personal information such as the last 10 places that users had checked into, their current location and their 15 most recent searches on the network.

While Facebook says hackers did not gain access to financial information, such as credit card numbers, the risk of phishing attacks is estimated to be high among victims of the breach.

Why It Matters

  • This isn’t the largest data breach by a long shot, but it’s perceptually critical because it affects the largest number of users on the world’s most popular platform.
  • Colin Bastable, CEO of Lucy Security, tells us: “Millions of phishing attacks will be launched, pretending to be from Facebook. Up to 20 percent of recipients will click and a large number of those will be successfully attacked.”
  • The revelations come amid an increasingly hostile environment for Facebook, and will likely further heighten threats of regulatory or legislative action. This week’s stock market rout of tech stocks doesn’t help.

Clyde Group Insights

Facebook is right to be watching its back.

It’s already under fire from governments and regulators across the world, facing accusations of tax evasion and significant encroachment of privacy rights. In the U.S. Facebook is fighting multiple investigations.

Russian meddling in elections using the social media platform and fake accounts to promulgate political division in the United States has already made lawmakers and opinion influencers dubious of the social network and public outrage over the handling of the Cambridge Analytica data exposure solidified those perceptions. Add to that a healthy dose of scepticism about the social network’s potential addictive qualities, and Facebook is under siege.

This breach won’t be the straw that breaks the camel’s back for Facebook in Washington. Lawmakers are too focused on the upcoming elections to use Facebook as a whipping boy in the immediate future, but you can bet a Democratic House majority will be coming for the social network in the new year. This data breach announcement only helps their case against it.


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