Facebook removes accounts advertising stolen identities


(Reuters) – Facebook Inc has removed a number of accounts and pages that advertised and sold social security numbers, addresses, phone numbers, and alleged credit card numbers of dozens of people, following a report by news website Motherboard.

“Posts containing information like social security numbers or credit card information are not allowed on Facebook, and we remove this material when we become aware of it,” a Facebook spokesman said on Tuesday.

A Google search still pulls up a few public Facebook posts that offer to sell personal details including credit card numbers.

Hackers have advertised databases of private information on the social platform and Motherboard reported on Tuesday that Facebook has held stolen identities and social security numbers for years.

The report said at least some of the data in these posts appeared real. The news website said it was able to confirm the first four digits of the social security numbers, names, addresses, and dates of birth for four people whose data appears in a post from July 2014.

Shares of Facebook were down 3.9 percent at $159.32.

Last week, Facebook deleted almost 120 private discussion groups of more than 300,000 members, after being alerted by a report from journalist Brian Krebs that the groups flagrantly promoted a host of illicit activities, including spamming, wire fraud, account takeovers, and phony tax refunds.

The biggest collection of groups banned were those promoting the sale and use of stolen credit and debit card accounts, and the next largest collection of groups included those facilitating takeovers for online accounts such Amazon, Google, Netflix, and PayPal, the report said.

Tech companies are under intense scrutiny about how they protect customer data after Facebook was embroiled in a huge scandal where millions of users’ data were improperly accessed by a political consultancy.

(Reporting by Munsif Vengattil and Supantha Mukherjee in Bengaluru; Editing by Bernard Orr)


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