A security researcher has found a database containing scraped data from almost 235 million social media accounts.
The accounts include social media users from Instagram, TikTok and YouTube. The database contains information including names, contact info, images, and stats about followers.
This type of practice is known as web scraping, which is when data is gathered from web pages in an automated manner, as outlined by The Next Web. Although web scraping is not illegal, popular social media platforms have banned the practice in order to protect user information.
Several analytics companies use web scraping techniques to sell insights from these types of databases to other firms.
In this instance, a researcher at security firm Comparitech found three copies of the database online. The database belonged to a company called Deep Social, which doesn’t seem to exist anymore.
Once the researcher reached out to Deep Social, his request was forwarded to another firm called Social Data, which is based in Hong Kong. The company denied having any relation to Deep Social, but removed the database.
Social Data told the researchers that the data wasn’t collected suspiciously and that all of the information in the database was already public.
Companies like YouTube, Instagram and TikTok prohibit web scraping because this type of data can be used for phishing and scam campaigns.