Facebook to be called before Oireachtas committee over latest security breach

Social media giant’s share price falls as 50 million user accounts hit by hacker attack

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg says, “The reality here is we face constant attack from people who want to take over accounts.” Photograph: Reuters

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg says, “The reality here is we face constant attack from people who want to take over accounts.” Photograph: Reuters


Facebook’s Irish bosses are to be called before the Oireachtas Committee on Communications to explain the latest data breach affecting the social network.

On Friday, the company contacted Irish data protection commissioner Helen Dixon about a security breach that allowed hackers to access up to 50 million user accounts. The breach, which the social network made public on Friday, sent Facebook’s shares down sharply.

Responding to the disclosure, committee chairwoman Hildegarde Naughton said she would contact Facebook’s senior management in Dublin on foot of a request from her party colleague, Senator Tim Lombard, who had his account hacked.

“It is quite alarming that Facebook users have suffered such a data breach,” Naughton said. “It highlights the precarious nature of uploading sensitive or personal content into the trust of social media giants.

“What security measures are in place for account holders and what are Facebook doing to prevent such a future occurrence? These are just some of the questions that we require answers for.”

Committee members will discuss the matter on Tuesday.

A Facebook spokeswoman has said it was as yet too early to establish whether or not the accounts of Irish Facebook users had been affected.

The world’s largest social network, which has 2.23 billion monthly users, is already struggling in the wake of a data breach to Cambridge Analytica and from accusations of its being a platform to spread political disinformation.

Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook’s founder and chief executive, said the latest

Facebook has its European headquarters in Dublin and thus falls under the remit of Irish data protection authorities.

The company’s share price dropped 3.3 per cent to $163.18 after Facebook said that it had reported the attack to the FBI. It has not yet discovered who was behind the breach or what information they may have accessed.

If accounts were accessed, hackers may have been able to read private messages and post as if they were the user.

This is Facebook’s first data breach since the implementation of the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation, which carries the threat of fines of up to 4 per cent of global revenue for serious breaches, which would equal $1.6 billion for Facebook.

The breach was found on Tuesday and the flaw was fixed on Thursday night. But it is also not known how long the attackers may have been able to exploit the flaw, which has been in the product since July 2017.