The spokesperson went to say: "These contacts were not shared with anyone and we're deleting them".
Facebook "unintentionally" uploaded and stored email contact information belonging to roughly 1.5 million users over the course of three years. Now it turns out Facebook has been uploading the email contacts of users without consent since 2016.
Facebook is facing the heat over several data scandals, including the massive Cambridge Analytica scandal where personal information of up to 87 million users was leaked.
Facebook did not respond to Reuters request for comment outside regular business hours.
Because these domains don't use the industry-leading OAuth standard to authenticate user identity, Facebook has to use the manual option to verify user identity. Then, the social media company would show a message about importing the user's contacts without first asking for permission.
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To many, the idea that they should trust Facebook with their data seems more old-fashioned by the day. "'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". The feature, which allows Facebook to automatically log in to a webmail account to effectively click the link on an email verification itself, was apparently meant to smooth the workflow for signing up for a new account.
The discovery follows criticism of Facebook by security experts for a feature that asked new users for their email password as part of the sign-up process. However, there is no clarity on whether the contacts were used for ad-targeting too, or were accessible to Facebook data brokers.
"Individuals and organizations who spread hate, or attack or call for the exclusion of others on the basis of who they are, have no place on Facebook", the company said.
The Facebook representative added that the contacts were not shared with anyone and the "underlying issue" has been fixed.