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Apps scan and collect Facebook user information for sale

Last update: 09:32 | 15/04/2018

VietNamNet Bridge - Telephone numbers, emails and addresses of millions of Vietnamese Facebookers can be bought easily.


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An ad posted on internet



“On sale: a file comprising information about 20,000 customers who have bought cars. High quality is guaranteed for car sellers and insurance agents,” says an ad posted by a member of a group of Facebookers discussing marketing. 

The seller said he would only sell to the first five customers who contact him.

These ads first appeared some years ago and have become more common recently. The information for sale includes names, telephone numbers, emails, residential addresses and hobbies/interests of Facebookers.

Phan Van Hoi from a big media company in Hanoi said that Facebookers’ information is no longer private”.

Hoi said dozens of apps have been developed to scan Facebook User IDs (UID) and get information. It costs hundreds of thousands of dong and several millions of dong a month to buy apps which he can use to ‘filter’ the personal information of Facebookers for specific purposes.

It costs hundreds of thousands of dong and several millions of dong a month to buy apps which he can use to ‘filter’ the personal information of Facebookers for specific purposes.

UID is like an ‘identity card’ that Facebook grants to users and it is the only way to identify a person. From UID, scan tools allow access to the database to get the information about names, telephone numbers, dates of births, residential addresses and friends list. The information can be downloaded in an Excel file.

Similarly, Group ID, Fanpage ID and Post ID are the identifiers of groups or fanpages, from which software can choose detailed information about the members and the people who ‘like’ the fanpages.

“When scanning the list of Facebookers who are members of the ‘pregnant mothers for the first time’ group, the app will give a list of women expecting their first child and their contact addresses,” Hoi explained.

The selected information allows marketing officers to easily approach their targeted clients through telesales, spam mail or Facebook custom audience.

Also according to Hoi, until June 2015, Facebook allowed ads directly with UID, i.e advertisers could approach their targeted subjects. 

Later, the social network stopped this kind of advertisement, but it still allows ads indirectly through telephone numbers or emails (except  ...@facebook.com)

So, with conversion tools, Facebook users’ information still can be used for marketing and advertisements.

According to Duc Hoang, an IT expert, the loophole in Facebook's privacy and security policy allows hackers to get data. 

"If you do not want to see your private information revealed, you should not share anything on Facebook or only share it privately with friends," he said.


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Thanh Mai

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