Fri, August 19, 2022

Surveillance firms spying on some Facebook users, Meta says

Wibest Broker-Facebook Network: a silhouette of a hand holding a padlock with Facebook logo on the background

According to Meta, private surveillance companies have spied on about 50,000 Facebook users.

On Thursday, in a blog post, Meta, which also owns Messenger, WhatsApp, and Instagram, warned people who might be targets.

The company also said that it banned seven surveillance companies from its platforms. It took action against the following companies: Cognyte, Cobwebs Technologies, Blue Hawk CI, Black Cube, Cytrox, BellTroX, and an unknown Chinese company. Four of these companies are based in Israel. Moreover, one is in North Macedonia, one is in India, and the last one is in China. CNBC tried to contact these companies, but none of them responded to its request for comment.

Meta said that these companies carried out several surveillance, engagement, and exploitation activities. Some of them carried out all three activities, while others concentrated on one or two. The company said that it removed around 2,000 accounts connected to the seven companies from its platforms.

How Meta reacted

Meta said that these companies targeted individuals, including journalists and human rights activists, on behalf of their clients. They also created fake accounts, got closer to targets, and used hacking strategies to obtain information.

Director of the threat disruption in Meta, David Agranovich, and the head of cyber espionage investigations, Mike Dvilyanski, wrote that the global surveillance industry targets people on the internet to accumulate information, manipulate them, and compromise their accounts and devices. The former head of digital forensics, Jake Moore, said in a statement that it is necessary to remove all accounts involved in such activities. He said that Facebook has previously struggled with identifying fake accounts and eliminating them. He added that people should remember to limit the information they decide to post on public social media, as it is not going to be the last case.

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