Snapchat data breach saw employees snoop on users

A new report from Motherboard suggests Snapchat employees have been able to snoop on users and abuse their power on the social networking site.

Former employees and a current Snap employee spoke to VICE journalists about the social network’s infrastructure, explaining how employees can access internal tools that allow them to see location data, saved Snaps, phone numbers, and email addresses of users.

SnapLion, an internal tool used at the company, gathers data on users in response to law enforcement requests, and that spam and abuse teams, customer operations teams, and security teams can all access the “keys of the kingdom”, even though some should not.

Two former employees have revealed that the SnapLion tool is being used for illegitimate reasons, although they did not share more information on specific incidents where this was the case.

One employee said that staff had abused their access to user data “a few times,” whilst another added that abuse was being carried out by more than one Snap employee.

Emails obtained by Motherboard and VICE also show that employees had discussed the issues of access to data and insider threats, but that so far nothing had been done by Snap.

Speaking in a statement after the Motherboard exposé, a Snap spokesperson said: “Protecting privacy is paramount at Snap. We keep very little user data, and we have robust policies and controls to limit internal access to the data we do have.

“Unauthorized access of any kind is a clear violation of the company’s standards of business conduct and, if detected, results in immediate termination.”

The news comes as Facebook and Instagram face fresh data breach concerns, with more than 49 million records exposed online, allowing anyone to access them.

Instagram infamously cloned many of Snapchat’s most popular features, like Stories, Filters, and Inbox Messaging, effectively wiping billions of dollars off of Snapchat’s worth overnight.

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