Facebook sues Ukrainian man for stealing 178 million users’ data

Facebook has decided to sue Alexander Alexandrovich Solonchenko, a Ukrainian programmer for stealing data from 178 million users. The data came from Facebook Messenger.

Data theft from 178 million Facebook users

The programmer exploited Facebook Messenger’s contact import feature using an automated tool that mimicked devices running Android. He provided Facebook with millions of phone numbers and collected data every time the site returned account information with phone numbers.

The Ukrainian ran the campaign between January 2018 and September 2019, when Facebook discontinued its tool for importing the information. The hacker began selling the data on a forum in December 2020. Facebook was able to trace Alexander Alexandrovich Solonchenko after he used his username on the forum and contact information for emails and job sites. The man also stole data from other groups, according to Facebook, including a major Ukrainian bank.

In its complaint, Facebook is seeking unspecified damages as well as bans preventing the Ukrainian programmer from accessing Facebook or selling his stolen data.

This is not the first time that Facebook user data has been stolen. In the spring, it involved the data of 533 million people.