Social Media Security Report

Proxyrack - October 8, 2022

Social Media Security Report

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The social media sites with the highest number of data breaches

Currently, we are very much in an age of social media, it informs many of the decisions we make and serves as a source of information and social interaction. It also serves as a platform to share news, voice opinions, and create varying types of content, locally and worldwide. 

However, our reliance on social media could also be perceived as a liability. As everyone knows, when you make accounts, you usually have to put in various amounts of information, some of it rather personal. And, especially where social media platforms are concerned, data leaks are a somewhat regular occurrence. However, there are ways to better protect yourself, such as our residential proxy, to obscure your IP address whilst you’re online. 

We reveal which sites have had the most data breaches, which one’s affected the most users, and which sites people are most concerned about scams on. 

Social media sites with the most data breaches

1. Facebook

Total Number of Data Breaches: 8

Facebook, the one that started it all, well almost. Founded by Mark Zuckerberg in 2004 and owned by Meta, which was formerly Facebook, Inc. this social networking site was one of the founding fathers of social media, so to speak. 

However, the site has been caught up in numerous data breaches and scandals. Most famously, there was the Cambridge Analytica data scandal of 2018, which wasn’t strictly a data breach, but it saw Facebook sell the data of 87 million users to Cambridge Analytica. This was not something that users had agreed to. Their first data breach was in 2013, with two others occurring in 2018, amidst the Cambridge Analytica scandal. The year 2019 would prove to be their worst, with a total of four data breaches, each exposing huge numbers of 

2. LinkedIn

Total Number of Data Breaches: 4

LinkedIn is a social networking platform with a focus on professional networking, allowing employers to post job advertisements and job seekers to post their CVs. The first record of a data breach on the site occurred in 2012. Initially, the site claimed only 6.5 million accounts were affected, this total was updated in 2016 to approximately 165 million. The site suffered another leak in 2018, where names, work, and personal email addresses, job titles, and individual profile links were scraped, affecting around 66 million users. 

Two more breaches happened in 2021, the first in April when public profiles were scraped of their data and later sold online, and the second in June, housing personal and professional data of people's accounts. 

3. Twitter 

Total Number of Data Breaches: 4

Twitter is a micro-blogging and social media network, founded in 2006 and is owned by Twitter, Inc. which previously owned Vine, a similar app to TikTok. In 2022, Elon Musk attempted to buy Twitter for around $44 billion, however, a few months after the offer was accepted, Musk terminated the deal. 

In 2016, a group of Russian hackers who had already stolen data from MySpace and LinkedIn stole around 32 million user records from Twitter. Then in 2018, Twitter released a statement to its 330 million users to change their passwords as a glitch in the site's code had temporarily exposed them. The site experienced two more breaches in 2020 and 2022, both on a smaller scale than that of the 2018 glitch. 

4. Yahoo!

Total Number of Data Breaches: 4

Yahoo! is an American web services provider that also runs Yahoo! Answers, a social networking service in which your Yahoo! credentials are used to log in. Yahoo! has been around since 1994, that’s a whopping 28 years. 

Yahoo! would experience its first data breach in 2012, when an SQL injection attack revealed users' usernames and passwords in plain text format. However, 2013 would see them experience their biggest data breach and one of the biggest data breaches in the world when a group of hackers revealed billions of users' personal data. Yahoo! would experience two more data breaches in 2014 and 2018. 

5. MySpace

Total Number of Data Breaches: 3

MySpace, launched in 2003, was the precursor to Facebook. They were the first social networking site to reach a global audience, having a huge influence on technology and culture at the time. 

However, like Facebook, they have also suffered a few data breaches. In 2008, they had their first and most damaging breach, when approximately 360 million users' data was stolen and later, in 2016, was sold on the web which was when knowledge of the breach became public. A hack by a Russian group in 2013, exposed similar amounts of data and again, the knowledge of this breach was immediately made public. 

Social media sites that lost the most user data

1. Yahoo!

Total Number of Users Affected by Data Breaches: 3,502,910,847

Yahoo! comes out on top, with its total number of users affected is over 3.5 billion. The majority of this figure is made up of the 2013 breach, which was initially thought to have exposed 1 billion users' data. This breach was first reported in 2016, during negotiations to sell themselves to Verizon and in 2017 they updated their estimate of users affected to 3 billion. With such a slow response time, it is difficult to see how anyone could trust Yahoo! with any amount of personal data. 


2. Facebook

Total Number of Users Affected by Data Breaches: 2,108,458,528

Facebook, one of the largest social networking sites of all time has suffered the most data leaks and as a consequence has leaked over 2.1 billion users' data. Their hardest-hitting year was 2019 when they suffered four different data breaches, leaking almost 2 billion users' data. And of course, there was the Cambridge Analytica scandal where Facebook sold user data without the consent of its users. 


3. LinkedIn

Total Number of Users Affected by Data Breaches: 1,056,457,960

And with the third most users affected by data breaches, we have LinkedIn, which has lost the data of just over 1 billion users to date. The majority of this total was from a data breach the site suffered in 2021 when 700 million users' data was exposed by a hacker and then later sold in a Dark Web forum. They also suffered a smaller scale breach in the same year, exposing around 125 million users' data. And their other two came in 2016, exposing around 165 million users' data, and in 2018 with 66 million users' data exposed. 

Social media sites with the largest concern for scams

1. WhatsApp

Search Term: WhatsApp scams | Google Search Volume: 397,100

WhatsApp, owned by Facebook, comes out as the social media platform where there is the highest perceived concern for scams, with 397,100 Google searches in the last year. The platform hasn’t exactly been the best at using the data of its users, as in 2021 it was fined $266 million for data transparency breaches. 

2. Instagram

Search Term: Instagram scams | Google Search Volume: 149,600

Instagram came out as the second social media site where people were most concerned about scams, with a total of 149,600 Google searches in the past year. Most people who have used the social networking site will have come across fake accounts or “bots”, usually messaging you informing you that you’ve won something too good to be true. That’s because it usually is, and such accounts should be reported indiscriminately. 

3. Facebook Messenger

Search Term: Facebook Messenger scams | Google Search Volume: 138,600

And finally, Facebook Messenger specifically comes out as the third social networking site where people are most concerned about scams. Facebook’s instant messaging app is prone to many of the same behaviors as Instagram, fake accounts messaging you telling you that you’ve won something or trying to lure personal information from you. Be cautious in accepting message requests and use common sense, if it seems risky, block immediately. 

Methodology 

Firstly, we started by building a list of the most used social media sites, using lists such as this one from Buffer. 

From there, we used multiple sources to track down how many data breaches these sites have had. Using Have I Been Pwned, Human-ID, and Upguard, we noted down how many different breaches each site had suffered and how many users were affected each time. 

For Facebook, we used SelfKey as they keep a record of Facebook data breaches.

First, we ranked each site on the number of breaches they had suffered and then on which sites data breaches had affected the most users. 

We then finally took each social networking site and used a search term in Google Keyword Planner to get an idea of which sites people are most concerned about being scammed on. 

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