Instagram says not source of contact info for influential users

Published: May 24, 2019
The Instagram application is seen on a phone screen August 3, 2017. 

The Instagram application is seen on a phone screen August 3, 2017. PHOTO: REUTERS

SAN FRANCISCO: Instagram said on Thursday it was not the source of private contact information for millions of influential users of the service recently found in an unguarded online database.

The online cache of data, which was discovered by a security researcher, was written about Monday by news site TechCrunch, which reported that it was traced back to Mumbai-based social media marketing firm Chtrbox.

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“We take any allegation of data misuse seriously,” an Instagram spokesperson said on Thursday.

“Following an initial investigation into the claims made in this story, we found that no private emails or phone numbers of Instagram users were accessed.”

The Chtrbox database contained publicly available information from an array of sources, one of which was Instagram, according to the image-centric social network.

In response to an AFP inquiry, Chtrbox said a database for influencers was “inadvertently” exposed for about 72 hours but did not include any sensitive personal information.

Information in the database was compiled from public sources or provided by influencers themselves, according to Chtrbox.

“No personal data has been sourced through unethical means by Chtrbox,” the company said, adding that the database was for internal research use only.

“We have never purchased hacked-data resulting from social media platform breaches,” Chtrbox said.

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The database was reported to include email addresses and phone numbers as well as public information from account profiles.

The database reportedly lacked a password or encryption and was said to have more than 49 million records in it before being taken offline after a query was made to Chtrbox.

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