Minister warns French Facebook users of security bug

The French secretary of state in charge of digital affairs has warned social media users to update their security settings and delete any private content, after a security breach was confirmed by Facebook.

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Mounir Mahjoubi confirmed today (Monday October 1) that he had contacted Facebook France to ascertain the extent of a “bug” that had been detected on the platform.

Facebook has confirmed that at least 50 million accounts worldwide may have been victim to a hack, allowing their passwords and data to be stolen or accessed. Many people found themselves logged out of their accounts over the weekend as a result of the bug.

Mr Mahjoubi first learned of the breach after Facebook in the US sent out an alert.

After he contacted Facebook France, the company said it “could not comment further” at that time, but confirmed that “all European procedure had been followed” and relevant authorities alerted correctly.

Mr Mahjoubi said: “I recommend that all people in France, on all [social media] platforms, review and change their personal data and delete anything that they would not like to see fall into the public domain.

“I even envisage that one day, all of our data posted online could be subject to a security breach. It is up to citizens to not publish things that could be sensitive. It is for each individual to decide what they give to these [online platform] services.”

He did not go as far as to advise people to shut down their accounts, but said that each person would need to decide what worked for them.

Mr Mahjoubi said: “This breach shows that these [online] platforms are not private vaults. We have too easily been naively thinking that everything on the internet is without danger, but we are realising today that we urgently need to take control of our own data.”

The MP said that he was not yet satisfied with Facebook’s response to the issue. He said that he would continue to alert people to the problem, and press the tech giant for more answers and responsibility.

This applied particularly to the new European GDPR privacy and data laws, he said. Technology companies should be required to offer more transparency and accountability, and be more responsive when breaches happen, he added.

He said: “Sanctions are due in case companies do not respect their obligations. The regulator is independent and the government must remain neutral, but it is our duty to remind French people to be informed and let them know how they are affected by this breach.”

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