The New York State Attorney General is investigating Facebook following the embattled company’s claim last week that it unintentionally collected 1.5 million user email address books without permission.
“It is time Facebook is held accountable for how it handles consumers’ personal information,” Attorney General Letitia James said in a statement. People affected by the improper collection of new user contact databases could number in the hundreds of millions, the Attorney General’s office pointed out.
The latest announcement of Facebook harvesting its user’s data was three years in the making. Before May 2016, users had the option to give Facebook access to email contacts from the email address they used to sign up for the platform. But after a redesign of the verification process, email contacts were automatically uploaded to Facebook, allegedly unbeknownst to the company. Passwords for the email addresses used were also collected for some users.
The improperly obtained contacts were then used to improve ad-targeting algorithms on the social media platform.
“Facebook has repeatedly demonstrated a lack of respect for consumer information while at the same time profiting from mining that data,” James tweeted Thursday afternoon.
Facebook, which reported $14.9 million in revenue this week for the first quarter of 2019, may face fines for the latest violation.
Although the Attorney General’s Office has yet to comment on whether the investigation will lead to fines against the company, Facebook is already bracing for a $3 billion fine from the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), the result of an investigation into the privacy violations wrought from the company’s relationship with Cambridge Analytica.