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Facebook's CEO Mark Zuckerberg. Photo: Christophe Morin/IP3/Getty Images

For years, Facebook has been storing hundreds of millions of users’ passwords exposed in plain text in an internal database that is searchable by tens of thousands employees, Brian Krebs of KrebsOnSecurity reports.

Why it matters: Although Facebook says it has no evidence that the database was abused by employees, this is just the latest example in a string of controversies over the company's handling of users’ information and privacy. In the last few months alone, Facebook has come under fire for sharing user data — including private messages — with other businesses and allowing users to be looked up by their phone numbers.

The big picture: Facebook is on the cusp of integrating several apps with messaging capabilities into 1 communications structure, which has raised questions among privacy advocates and lawmakers alike over Facebook's shaky track record on privacy.

Details:

  • Facebook found the security issue in January during a “routing security review,” the company's VP of engineering, security and privacy wrote in a blog post. In some cases the exposure of the passwords goes back as far as 2012.
  • Facebook will be notifying the users whose passwords were affected.
  • By the numbers: 20,000 employees could search the database and between 200 million and 600 million users had their passwords stored in plain text, per Krebs.
  • Security-aware companies typically store passwords in encrypted or otherwise obscured formats that don't allow them to be read, even by their own employees.

Go deeper

Local news moves to the inbox

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

A slew of new companies are launching platforms for local newsletters, a shift that could help finally bring the local news industry into the digital era.

Driving the news: Substack, the email publishing platform for independent journalists, on Thursday announced a new local news platform.

J&J vaccine pause hurts its reputation

Reproduced from Economist/YouGov poll; Chart: Axios Visuals

Americans' confidence in the safety of Johnson & Johnson's coronavirus vaccine took a big dip this week after the pause in its use, per new YouGov polling, even though the risk of blood clots following the shot is extremely low, if it exists at all.

Why it matters: For the majority of people, particularly high-risk Americans, getting the J&J shot is almost certainly less dangerous than remaining vulnerable to the coronavirus.

Felix Salmon, author of Capital
2 hours ago - Economy & Business

Inflation will rise. Don't panic

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

It's been 40 years since America last saw a damaging level of inflation. Yet despite that — or perhaps because of it — inflation fears are widespread, and could even become self-fulfilling.

Why it matters: The government's strategy for bringing back employment and widespread prosperity involves a necessary — yet temporary — increase in inflation. When an entire generation has never experienced such a thing, that can be disconcerting. And for the time being, Americans are not buying what the government is selling.