New York Attorney General Investigating Email Collection Facebook Used To Improve Ad Targeting

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Written by Ann Brown
Facebook
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, left, makes the keynote speech at F8, the Facebook’s developer conference, Tuesday, April 30, 2019, in San Jose, Calif. (AP Photo/Tony Avelar )

Facebook seems to stay in hot water these days. The latest trouble for the social media giant comes from the New York attorney general’s office. It has opened an investigation into the tech company after it was recently revealed that Facebook collected email contacts belonging to more than 1.5 million people without their consent.

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“It is time Facebook is held accountable for how it handles consumers’ personal information,” Attorney General Letitia James said in a statement. “Facebook has repeatedly demonstrated a lack of respect for consumers’ information while at the same time profiting from mining that data.”

It all started in May 2016 when Facebook automatically collected users’ contact lists. It later used that info to improve its ad-targeting algorithms among other things.

According to Facebook, the data collection and subsequent use of the data was an “unintentional” consequence that occurred when it would verify user IDs. But the company didn’t stop during it until Business Insider first reported the practice in April 2019.

“Facebook’s announcement that it harvested 1.5 million users’ email address books, potentially gaining access to contact information for hundreds of millions of individual consumers without their knowledge, is the latest demonstration that Facebook does not take seriously its role in protecting our personal information,” James said.

Facebook is expecting to pay a fine somewhere between $3 and $5 billion from the U.S. Federal Trade Commission as “a settlement payment following the agency’s investigation into the Cambridge Analytica scandal and the potential privacy violations that followed suit, The Verge reported.

Facebook has a wide pool of people to collect data from. “The New York Times reports almost 2.4 billion people use Facebook each month, and 1.56 billion people visit the site at least once a day,” The Daily Beast reported.