Data privacy is still very much a big deal to internet denizens and this week we’re scratching our heads at the existence of a database that contains the private data of more than 49 million Instagram influencers just sitting online, waiting for somebody to grab it.
The database was discovered by security researcher Anurag Sen who alerted TechCrunch in a bid to find the owner.
The database reportedly contained public data that was likely scrapped from Instagram. This includes follower counts, profile pictures and the user’s bios.
Worryingly however, the database also contained private contact information including the user’s email addresses and phone numbers. The database was reportedly hosted by Amazon Web Services and was accessible to anybody.
After some digging TechCrunch traced the database back to Indian social media marketing firm Chtrbox. The marketing firm pays influencers to post sponsored content for brands.
However, the story takes a twist when TechCrunch reports that some several users within the database had no dealings with Chtrbox.
“We contacted several people at random whose information was found in the database and provided them their phone numbers. Two of the people responded and confirmed their email address and phone number found in the database was used to set up their Instagram accounts. Neither had any involvement with Chtrbox, they said,” reports TechCrunch.
The database has reportedly been pulled.
“We’re looking into the issue to understand if the data described – including email and phone numbers – was from Instagram or from other sources,” Facebook said in a statement.
The social network also said that it is in contact with Chtrbox to determine where the data came from and how it became publicly available.