Facebook probes Instagram influencer data breach

Facebook has launched an investigation after it emerged that the contact details of almost 50m Instagram users leaked from an online database operated by Chtrbox, an Indian based influencer marketing tool.

An investigation by TechCrunch found that the social media giant is probing a trove of mishandled data included both emails and phone numbers of individuals, including high-profile ‘influencers’ with many followers. This was supplemented by location data on some individuals and was hosted on an Amazon server with no password protection.

In a statement, Facebook said: “We're looking into the issue to understand if the data described - including email and phone numbers - was from Instagram or from other sources. We're also inquiring with Chtrbox to understand where this data came from and how it became publicly available.”

For its part, Chtrbox wrote: “We're looking into the issue to understand if the data described - including email and phone numbers - was from Instagram or from other sources. We're also inquiring with Chtrbox to understand where this data came from and how it became publicly available.”

The company denies obtaining the data through nefarious means although gathering information on Instagram accounts breaches the image sharing platforms policies.

Instagram is increasingly focussed on its army of influencers and their revenue streams, it is now enabling them to tag and sell products directly.