On Thursday, Facebook acknowledged that there had been a bug in one of its databases that stored passwords in a plaintext format. This meant that the passwords for millions of Facebook and Instagram users had been exposed to anyone with internal access at the company. This news comes after a rough few years for the social media company. Scandals involving Cambridge Analytica and election interference and the hiring of the Definers communications team have increased public doubt in the company and caused major collateral damage for the company and its executives, especially COO Sheryl Sandberg.
Facebook should deeply understand what a large target it is for hackers. Millions of users are posting personal information to their sites each day. While there is of course an individual responsibility to be safe online, social media users also have an unspoken contract with the platforms they use that the basics, such as their passwords being kept secret, will be taken care of by the company. This also underscores how important it is to have security in mind at all levels of a company in this digital age. We will only begin to be online more and more in the coming years, and security and privacy must be of the utmost importance to ensure users will trust and use a platform.