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Illustration: Rebecca Zisser/Axios

Facebook today revealed a “security issue” in which a code flaw could have allowed hackers to take over upwards of 50 million user accounts.

“We face constant attacks from people who want to take over accounts or steal information…We need to do more to prevent this from happening in the first place."
— Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, during a call with reporters.

The big picture: This is just the latest in a long string of recent problems for Facebook, including executive defections, social media interference, privacy concerns, and accusations of anti-conservative bias.

"The original investigation started when we saw a pattern of increased usage to the site and when we dug into that we found this was an attack exploiting that vulnerability."
— Guy Rosen, Facebook's vice president of product management

Why it matters: Facebook's headache is no longer about a third party brokering user data — this is about Facebook's code having a flaw that allows hackers to access personal information in user accounts. And there is nothing users can do about it from a security standpoint but let Facebook roll out an update.

The code vulnerability is related to the “view as” feature on profiles, where users can view their profiles through the eyes of someone else.

  • Facebook says the hack was produced by the interaction of three "bugs" introduced when Facebook updated the video upload feature in July, 2017.

The company does not yet know if information has been misused or accessed, which is something CEO Mark Zuckerberg reiterated during a media call.

  • Passwords were apparently not accessed. Neither was any credit card information.
  • Facebook says it has fixed the code vulnerability, and the "view as" feature is temporarily turned off.
  • The company says it is working with the FBI. It also alerted law enforcement in Europe, per new privacy rules there called GDPR, and the Department of Homeland Security.

Facebook says it first learned of the vulnerability this past Tuesday. On Wednesday it alerted authorities and on Thursday fixed the vulnerability and began resetting access codes.

Go deeper: Everyone unfriends Facebook

Correction: This story has been updated to specify the year of the hack and correct that the bug was in the video upload feature's code.

Go deeper

9 hours ago - Health

Food banks feel the strain without holiday volunteers

People wait in line at Food Bank Community Kitchen on Nov. 25 in New York City. Photo: Michael Loccisano/Getty Images for Food Bank For New York City

America's food banks are sounding the alarm during this unprecedented holiday season.

The big picture: Soup kitchens and charities, usually brimming with holiday volunteers, are getting far less help.

11 hours ago - Health

AstraZeneca CEO: "We need to do an additional study" on COVID vaccine

Photo: Pavlo Gonchar/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

AstraZeneca CEO Pascal Soriot said on Thursday the company is likely to start a new global trial to measure how effective its coronavirus vaccine is, Bloomberg reports.

Why it matters: Following Phase 3 trials, Oxford and AstraZeneca said their vaccine was 90% effective in people who got a half dose followed by a full dose, and 62% effective in people who got two full doses.

Updated 13 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Health: Coronavirus cases rose 10% in the week before Thanksgiving.
  2. Politics: Supreme Court backs religious groups on New York coronavirus restrictions.
  3. World: Expert says COVID vaccine likely won't be available in Africa until Q2 of 2021 — Europeans extend lockdowns.
  4. Economy: The winners and losers of the COVID holiday season.
  5. Education: National standardized tests delayed until 2022.