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IT Reporting: Scraping the Bottom of the Barrel with a Fake Facebook Data Breach

By Duane Thresher, Ph.D.          April 21, 2021

I've written extensively and expertly about the very sensitive information, perfect for identity theft, that Facebook has about its users: Facebook Reads Your And Government Officials'/Politicians' Email and Facebook Has A Database Of User ID Photos and, most importantly, Insecure Facebook Demands Your Passport, Bank Statements, Medical Records, ... I've also written about how Facebook let hackers have this information in a real data breach (September 2018, 50 million Facebook accounts hacked): Yahoo-Then-Facebook CISO Alex Stamos Allows Yet Another Massive Data Breach. That hackers may have stolen Facebook users' passports, bank statements, and medical records is a big story that the IT incompetent media completely missed. Instead, this month the IT incompetent media, particularly "journalists" with failing careers, have been hyping a fake Facebook data breach: half a billion Facebook users had their Facebook information, particularly phone numbers, "stolen" in a "data breach" that will lead to identity theft of a large percentage of the world's population. The IT incompetent failing liberal media has completely misunderstood what really happened and sensationalized the non-story to boost sales and careers and force their liberal political ideology on people, just as they did in the "Facebook-Cambridge Analytica data scandal", another fake Facebook data breach. What happened was everyday perfectly-legal "scraping", which I will expertly explain here and which you benefit from. With reference to Information Technology (IT) Age v. Information Age, I'll explain how Google (the "Googolic Church") and Wikipedia (the "Church Scribes") were part of this IT incompetent failing liberal media frenzy.

After writing Information Technology (IT) Age v. Information Age, I came across a headline in the IT incompetent liberal media about half a billion Facebook users having their Facebook information, particularly phone numbers, "stolen" in a "data breach" that will lead to identity theft of a large percentage of the world's population. This immediately sounded like more fake news, so I decided to investigate. I started with Wikipedia, where incompetent reporters start. On the Wikipedia page about Facebook, in the Breaches section, was the entry:
In April 2021, The Guardian reported approximately half a billion users' data had been stolen including birthdates and phone numbers. Facebook alleged it was "old data" from a problem fixed in August of 2019 despite the data's having been released a year and a half later only in 2021; it declined to speak with journalists, had apparently not notified regulators, called the problem "unfixable", and said it would not be advising users.[357]
The reference for this was:
357. "Another huge data breach, another stony silence from Facebook" Check |url= value (help). The Guardian. Retrieved April 21, 2021.
The reference link was broken (because it started with https://https://), which is typical for Wikipedia because Wikipedia contributor/editors can't be bothered to check their work. However, the article could be found by googling the telling headline, "Another huge data breach, another stony silence from Facebook". It was indeed in The Guardian, which is a British newspaper, and was written by Carole Cadwalladr [sic], who is an IT incompetent one-trick pony British reporter with a failing career.

Carole Cadwalladr is IT incompetent because she has no IT education (see The Most Important IT Credential: An IT Education in Principles of IT Incompetence); she only has a bachelor's in journalism. And her claim that the Facebook data must be from a recent data breach because it only recently appeared is just stupid. Hackers don't release the data they've stolen until they are done using it, years later, if ever. To do so would make the data worthless. Hackers don't even want anyone to know there has been a data breach; see HealthCare.gov Hacked.

Carole Cadwalladr made her pathetic career covering the so-called "Facebook–Cambridge Analytica data scandal", which is the "Another huge data breach" she is referring to in her headline. At the time this story was sensationalized (2018), two years after the incident was disclosed (2016), even the liberal media was not brazen enough to call it a "data breach", only a "data scandal". Now though, while Cadwalladr is trying to restart her failing career, she is calling it, and this latest incident, "data breaches".

This is not the first time a "journalist" has used the British newspaper The Guardian to try to restart a failing career. Glenn Greenwald was working for The Guardian when he and they aided and abetted Edward Snowden in hacking the NSA and CIA, before Snowden fled to Russia to avoid execution for treason in the U.S. The Guardian sold a lot of newspapers from Greenwald's stories about this and Greenwald wrote a best-selling book.

Brit Carole Cadwalladr was a finalist for the 2019 Pulitzer Prize for her coverage of the "Facebook-Cambridge Analytica data scandal", even though Pulitzer rules specify it is only for U.S. writers. Nowadays it is only awarded to extremely politically correct writers, but Cadwalladr easily met that criterion — she had done an extensive series of articles about what she termed the "right-wing fake news ecosystem".

The "Facebook-Cambridge Analytica data scandal" was just more politically-motivated fake news. It was just another "scraping" story (see ahead) that would have been ignored by the liberal media except that President Trump and Senator Ted Cruz, both hated by the liberal media, had used for their 2016 campaigns the data analysis services of Cambridge Analytica, which had used data made available by, not stolen from, Facebook, specifically several hundred thousand willing Facebook users.

As explained in Information Technology (IT) Age v. Information Age, I expected that, as would be typical, the Wikipedia entry had been added by Carole Cadwalladr or someone else at The Guardian, to promote themselves, in violation of Wikipedia's rules, but which are waived for the liberal media. In fact, Cadwalladr is friends with Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales . I looked through the history of the Wikipedia page about Facebook, via its "View history" tab, and found that the entry had actually been added by Chris Rodgers, who is a long-time Wikipedia contributor/editor. Rodgers thus has his own Wikipedia contributor/editor page and I read there what he wrote about himself:
An outstanding daytime triple-UFO sighting also gave me an active interest in both those and the argument they are best explained (consistent with corroborative accounts) as extraterrestrial visitation. I dream of the day of full contact and disclosure, mindful we may not necessarily collectively ready for it, though extraconstitutional entities appear more hindrance than help there.
Typical long-time Wikipedia contributor/editor Chris Rodgers is a tinfoil-hat wearing kook and anyone who trusts Wikipedia as a source — like Congress, see Information Technology (IT) Age v. Information Age — is a fool.

After I stopped laughing, I did the next thing IT incompetent reporters do: I googled the story.

The top results were all liberal media articles, including Wikipedia, and as explained in Information Technology (IT) Age v. Information Age, all used the same wording from the same original source. With many of these articles I had to go through several of them, each citing another, before I got to the original source. The original source was an article, "533 million Facebook users' phone numbers and personal data have been leaked online", by Aaron Holmes in Business Insider.

Aaron Holmes is the IT incompetent juvenile tech reporter at Business Insider. He only has a bachelor's in English literature (see The Most Important IT Credential: An IT Education in Principles of IT Incompetence). If Holmes wasn't working for the IT incompetent liberal media (see IT Hiring: Trading IT Competence for Political Correctness in Principles of IT Incompetence), the only thing he would be saying to the public is "do you want fries with that".

To further his pathetic career, Aaron Holmes claims to have "broken" the story of data "stolen" from Facebook in a "breach" in early April, but it is based on a report in January of finding the data on the Web available to everyone. It was not a story then, and Facebook continues to dismiss it as a non-story, because it is not a data breach at all. It is just everyday perfectly-legal "scraping". Holmes mentions "scraping" in his article but uses it interchangeably with "data breach". In her article, Carole Cadwalladr explicitly declares "scraping" is the same thing as "data breach" and calls out Facebook for denying this.

"Data scraping" means to use a computer program to extract data from human-readable computer output. In particular, "web scraping" means to extract data from webpages, like Facebook, which are designed to be read by humans. Computers though can read a lot more webpages than humans can. "Scraping" is an apt word because it means to take from the surface, which can already be seen, just like webpages. It does not mean breaking into and stealing, such as for a real data breach. Scraping is done by "data miners" to put together the large data sets they require to analyze and draw significant inferences, and to make available for public use. Data mining is a legitimate, common activity, practiced, albeit usually IT incompetently, by government, business, and the media.

President Trump and Senator Ted Cruz hired Cambridge Analytica in their 2016 campaigns to understand the political opinions of the public. Cambridge Analytica figured this out by analyzing large data sets they had gathered by data mining, including scraping and including from Facebook, with Facebook's approval, specifically the approval of several hundred thousand Facebook users.

You yourself have probably happily used the large data sets put together by data miners scraping webpages. Ever done a web search for information about someone, an old friend or a new acquaintance? Especially with Bing search (Microsoft), websites with these large data sets are often the top results for searching for a name, and these websites are often the best and/or only sources of information about the person; most people don't have pages on LinkedIn (Microsoft). And Google search and Microsoft Bing search are just large data sets gathered by web scraping. Why aren't The Guardian, Carole Cadwalladr, Business Insider, and Aaron Holmes attacking Google and Bing search for web scraping? Because they don't want mentions of themselves to be lowered in the search rankings, already high because they are liberals favored by Google and Microsoft. Speaking of Microsoft and real data breaches, see The Doomsday Microsoft Government Email Data Breach and Doomsday II: The Massive Microsoft Email Data Breach Sequel.

In this latest fake Facebook data breach, the data "discovered" may have been put together by web-scraping data miners for public use, or it may be left over from the "Facebook-Cambridge Analytica data scandal", since Cambridge Analytica was driven out of business by it (see ahead) and is probably still angry that Facebook threw them under the bus.

In this latest fake Facebook data breach, the IT incompetent media has made much of people's phone numbers being obtained via Facebook. However, as I explained in Facebook Reads Your And Government Officials'/Politicians' Email, Facebook users willingly, including giving their email (not Facebook) passwords to do so, allow Facebook to read their contact list/address book, which contains information, including phone numbers, for even non Facebook users. I have expert experience with this. I have a fake (not my real name) Facebook account and I used a burner phone number to get it, after Facebook stopped letting me use fake email accounts (e.g. Google Mail) to get fake Facebook accounts. I also gave this burner phone number out to some businesses (people) along with my real name. I know these people let Facebook read their contact list/address book, with my burner phone number, because when I logged into my new fake Facebook account they were suggested as Facebook users I might know and want to friend.

In this latest fake Facebook data breach, Facebook supposedly had a "vulnerability" that the "hackers" took advantage of to get phone numbers, but this was just part of the explained "feature" to help Facebook users find friends. Facebook fixed this "vulnerability" in August 2019 by just turning this feature off. That's why Facebook is dismissing this "data breach", while it admitted to the real one in September 2018, about which I wrote in Yahoo-Then-Facebook CISO Alex Stamos Allows Yet Another Massive Data Breach and which is a far more serious identity theft threat.

In the "Facebook-Cambridge Analytica data scandal", Cambridge Analytica got in trouble for getting more data than Facebook had explicitly said they could, actually what several hundred thousand Facebook users had said they could, by getting the information of the friends of those users. As explained, Facebook encouraged this and Facebook users agreed to this, via willingly providing their contact list/address book.

Cambridge Analytica was not prosecuted because they hadn't broken any laws. They were however driven out of business by the liberal media, their only "crime" being they had dared work for media-hated President Trump and Senator Ted Cruz.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, whose information was allegedly stolen in the latest fake Facebook data breach, testified before Congress, which he'd done before and led to nothing; see Fake Federal Facebook Fury Finally Finished. Facebook was fined by the Federal Trade Commission, but for alleged (there was no court case) privacy violations, not for allowing a data breach, no one gets punished for that. Facebook simply paid the fine and wrote it off as a PR cost.

As I make clear in my mentioned articles, Facebook is dangerous, but let me be blunt here, if you are stupid enough to put your information on Facebook then expect it to be used by anyone for any purpose. The government is too IT incompetent and self-serving to protect you. And the media is too IT incompetent and self-serving to stop Facebook, itself part of the IT incompetent liberal media. Facebook can't be stopped by making up fake news about them that they can easily dismiss, making the media look more stupid than they already do, if that's possible.