Millions of Facebook and Instagram Passwords Were Left in Plain Sight. What Now?

If you are an avid Facebook or Instagram user, you definitely know that signing into your accounts has never been easier. All of your devices can sign you in automatically, when your passwords are saved in your browser or in your app. However, is that really safe? Not really. And now we know well that the passwords aren't safe even within Facebook itself. We are referring to the latest headlines that said millions of Facebook passwords were stored in plain text. We are going to look into this Facebook privacy issue, and then we will tell you how to change your Facebook password.

Severe Facebook Privacy Issues

The essence of the problem that Facebook faced several weeks ago was explained by Brian Krebs on his blog. The main problem is that when you have to process a lot of personal data, you have to make sure that this data cannot be viewed easily by both – outsiders and insiders. It has to protect your data so that hackers cannot break into your account, and it also has to encrypt or obfuscate your data from its employees as well. And that's where Facebook failed because apparently, hundreds of millions of Facebook passwords were stored in plain text (like in a Notepad file, for example) within the system for years, and Facebook employees could easily search them.

Although Facebook claimed that its employees haven't abused that data, it is certainly a severe Facebook privacy breach that should have been solved years ago. Although the glitch is said to have been fixed by now, there is no guarantee that it will not happen again. Not to mention that millions of passwords are said to have been exposed since 2012, and there is no way to know whether any previous employees hadn't taken advantage of the glitch. What's more, it looks like this negligence regarding user data security is quite prevalent, as Twitter unearthed a similar issue just a few months ago.

This Facebook privacy issue affected mostly Facebook Lite users. Facebook Lite is a custom Facebook app that is designed for users who have problems with accessing high-speed connections with low-speed phones. However, the company should be notifying hundreds of thousands of Facebook and Instagram users about the glitch because both apps are interconnected since Instagram is owned by Facebook.

The news about this Facebook privacy glitch came amidst other reports about the security struggles that social media platforms seem to have been facing recently. Just last month, the New York Times reported that Facebook has struck deals with large data companies, and these deals might overstep the boundaries of personal data sharing defined by federal laws. Also, some of the Facebook app settings for two-factor authentication came under fire as well. Apparently, if you set up the two-factor authentication, and you use your phone number for that, that phone number appears on your profile and anyone can look it up. Some users complained that there is no way to opt out of this.

These reports show that time and again different Facebook privacy issues arise, and sometimes there isn’t much what users can do about it, save for pointing the issue out, and hoping for the best. However, as a conscious end user, you should employ all the security measures possible to secure your personal data and your Facebook account. And the first thing you can do is change Facebook or Instagram password.

How to change Facebook password

Changing Facebook password regularly is important, especially if you want to ensure that you avoid potential privacy issues. Luckily, it is rather easy to change your password, and you can do it by following the instructions below. Just make sure you are logged in on your browser before you attempt to change it.

  1. Click the bullet down arrow at the top right corner of your Facebook page.
  2. Choose Settings.
  3. Go to Security and Login.
  4. Find Change Password and select Edit.
  5. Enter your current password.
  6. Enter your new password and confirm it.
  7. Click Save Changes.

And you’re done! Now, if you have an Instagram account, you might want to change that password too. Especially if you haven't done that in a while.

How to change Instagram password

  1. Open your Profile page.
  2. Tap the three horizontal bar icon at the top right.
  3. Select Settings and go to Privacy and Security.
  4. Tap Password.
  5. Enter your current password.
  6. Enter your new password and confirm it.
  7. Press Save at the top right.

Your new Instagram password has been saved! Now you just need to make sure that you renew your passwords on a regular basis.

How can I ensure Facebook privacy and security?

As mentioned, one of the best ways for users to protect their social media accounts is renewing their passwords regularly. Also, your passwords should be unique and complex, so that it is harder for hackers to guess them using brute force.

Needless to say, if you have many social media accounts, it is hard to keep track of all your passwords. When that happens, users tend to reuse passwords across different accounts, but that is a big mistake. Reusing passwords can easily lead to personal data theft.

To make your life easier, you can use a password manager that will help you generate strong and unique passwords for every single account. Not to mention, the password manager will store those passwords, and you won't have to memorize them. Finally, you will be sure that your passwords are renewed regularly.

Of course, when companies like Facebook faces security glitches, there isn't much an ordinary end user can do to mitigate the damage. However, you will definitely be able to get a better sleep at night knowing that you have done everything in your power to make your Facebook or Instagram accounts secure. After all, personal data security is a two-way street.

April 11, 2019

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