In a database recently discovered online, there was a vast number of private data of various Instagram influencers, celebrities, and brands. There were nearly 50 million people affected, and the database contained even their private data, including phone numbers and email addresses.
According to TechCrunch, the database was hosted by Amazon Web Services and it was left exposed, without a password, allowing anyone to take a look inside. At the time of TechCrunch’s reporting, there were over 49 million records, but the number was growing. However, after they traced it back to the company that leaked it, it was removed.
The leaked data contained public information, such as the account owner’s bio, profile picture, number of followers, if they’re verified, and their location by city and country. However, as previously mentioned, there were also phone numbers and email addresses, which are private data. The list includes millions of popular Instagram users, among which are reportedly some high-profile influencers and celebrities.
TechCrunch managed to trace the database back to social media marketing firm from Mumbai named Chtrbox. This company pays influencers to post sponsored content on their accounts, so each record in the leaked database also contained the worth of each account. It’s determined based on the number of followers, engagement, reach, likes and shares each account had. As TechCrunch explains, this data was “used as a metric to determine how much the company could pay an Instagram celebrity or influencer to post an ad.”
This isn’t the first time that Instagram users’ data leaked online. As a matter of fact, it was just recently that a major security bug leaked users’ passwords as plain text. Reportedly, Chtrbox didn’t give a comment to the leaked database. Instagram’s parent company, Facebook, said that it was “looking into the matter.”
“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.”
I find the fact that Instagram has 50 million influencers surprising and astonishing in itself. But regardless of that, this case shows us that no one is spared from security bugs and private data leaks, and it’s a reminder to be mindful of what you share on social media.