Meta fined by Irish Data Protection Commission for Data Breach

Meta, which owns Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp, has been fined $275M by the Irish Data Protection Commission (DPC). The fine is over a data breach that saw the personal details of hundreds of millions of Facebook users get published online.


The penalty is in relation to an inquiry launched by the DPC back on April 14, 2021, after media reports revealed that Facebook, one the leading social media platforms had been breached, and email addresses and mobile phone numbers from more than 530 million accounts were exposed online.

This is not the first time Meta has been struck with a privacy violation. A year ago, the company’s leading mobile messaging platform WhatsApp was fined roughly a $267M penalty for transparency violations. 

In September 2022, Instagram, under the Meta Platforms umbrella was hit with a $486 million fine for breaching children’s privacy. In fact this year, Facebook was penalized for historical data breaches of $18.6 million.

The latest fine may not be the last either with the DPC holding continuing inquiries into the company’s business operations that could see the social media giant fined again.

One of the offenses cited in the DPC statement is the fact Meta Platforms Ireland (MPIL) still processes personal data containing default searchability, which DPC wants Meta to amend its processes to preclude the immediate access of personal data to an endless number of natural persons. DPC Deputy Graham Doyle, reveals to the media that this order is made to ensure adherence with Article 25(2) GDPR.

Graham also adds that there was a complete inquiry process, including association with all of the other data protection supervisory authorities within the EU. That supervisory management agreed with the decision of the DPC.

Although Meta representatives failed to confirm or refuse whether the company was going to appeal the decision, the technology giant is taking a tighter look at the decision carefully.

In a statement, the company revealed that protecting the privacy and security of people’s data is essential to how their business works. That’s why they have teamed up with the Irish Data Protection Commission on this critical issue and made changes to the systems during the time in question, including removing the ability to scratch their features in this way using phone numbers. Unauthorized data scraping is inappropriate and against their rules and they will continue working with others to tackle this challenge while reviewing this decision carefully.

In July Meta launched a new user account system that lets users aged 18 years and above have public profiles where they can assemble their communities using the “follow” system. The company decided to keep the accounts of those aged 13-17 private via the “friends” format.

The new system was presented to direct the company’s metaverse era. It encourages users to have multiple accounts authorizing them to only upload certain details of their personal information to distinctive accounts. For example, users can have different gaming IDs from Horizon World’s business/personal IDs.

Also read: Meta’s Horizon worlds metaverse is losing users

Whether this new format allows Meta to comply with specific GDPR regulations remains to be seen. The company sees the metaverse as its next step in expansion, but the adoption has thus far been poor.

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