Over 49 million Instagram accounts exposed: Celebs, influencers private info leaked

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Over the years, the security of users' data remains a concern for social media and e-commerce platforms. Recently, we have seen several data leakage incidents involving some big names like Uniqlo and Cathay Pacific Airways. But this time, the impact is closer home. A massive database of 49 million Instagram users has been leaked online, which includes information on celebs, influencer and brands.

The data contains user's Instagram bio, profile picture, location, number of followers, mobile numbers, email IDs, amounts transacted, location of the accounts etc. The leak was first shared with TechCrunch by a cybersecurity researcher. According to the report, the users and influencers are clients of Mumbai-based influencer marketing agency Chtrbox.

Chtrbox connects influencers with brands and pays them to post sponsored content and have more than 180,000 clients. The leaked data contains high profiles accounts, which includes popular celebs, prominent food bloggers and social media influencers.

The report claims, "At the time of news, the database is growing." However, the marketing firm didn't respond to a request for comment and several questions, including how the company obtained private Instagram account email addresses and phone numbers. As the news spotted, Chtrbox pulled the database offline.

A few years ago, Instagram admitted a security bug in its developer API, which allowed hackers to obtain users information like email addresses and phone numbers of six million Instagram accounts. Later, they sold the data for bitcoin.

However, Facebook, which owns Instagram, said, "We're looking into the issue to understand if the data described – including email and phone numbers – was from Instagram or from other sources." The social media giant also hinted an investigation of Chtrbox to understand where this data came from and how it became publicly available.

It is still unclear how this marketing firm manages to access these Instagram accounts. As so many incidents have been noticed, social media platforms and other websites will have to develop some data leakage prevention tool to keep its credibility.