Massive Instagram data dump by Indian firm exposed records of millions of influencers

A database containing contact details and records of more than 49 million Instagram users, including popular food bloggers and celebrities, has been leaked online by an Indian marketing company, which somehow obtained the list.

Instagram has long transformed from a photo sharing social network into an ad app on which “influencers” – users with thousands of followers – promote products and services for money or barter.

Now it has emerged that millions of phone numbers, email addresses, photographs, numbers of followers and prices per post of such users were dumped unprotected for anyone to view, IT news site TechCrunch reported.

Journalists found out that the database was linked to social media marketing company Chtrbox, located in Mumbai. It describes itself as “the leading platform for brands to discover and collaborate with all kinds of talented influencers in India,” which means it pays social media celebrities for posting sponsored content.

None of the listed influencers contacted by TechCrunch, however, could confirm they had a contract with Chtrbox.

The firm refused to comment on the story, but soon after the request, the database was closed. Facebook, which owns Instagram, said that it was looking into the issue “to understand if the data described – including email and phone numbers – was from Instagram or from other sources.”

For Facebook users, the revelation probably didn’t come as a big surprise as the company has recently apologized for several data leaks and has been accused of privacy breaches. In April, it emerged that some 48 million people had their personal details exposed after a data search firm left a huge collection of profiles unprotected in an Amazon cloud service dump. In March, Facebook admitted that a billion users’ passwords had been kept unprotected on the company’s servers for almost a decade.