Cutting ties with Facebook is harder than you think. Here's how to do it, and what's at stake.
CNN/John General
Cutting ties with Facebook is harder than you think. Here's how to do it, and what's at stake.
Now playing
01:36
Here's how to delete your Facebook account
Facebook
Getty Images
Facebook
Now playing
03:14
More than 500 million Facebook users' personal data leaked online
Energy and Commerce Committee/YouTube
Now playing
02:50
US lawmakers question tech CEOs on misinformation
TOPSHOT - A demonstrator wearing a mask painted with the colours of the flag of East Turkestan and a hand bearing the colours of the Chinese flag attends a protest of supporters of the mostly Muslim Uighur minority and Turkish nationalists to denounce China's treatment of ethnic Uighur Muslims during a deadly riot in July 2009 in Urumqi, in front of the Chinese consulate in Istanbul, on July 5, 2018. - Nearly 200 people died during a series of violent riots that broke out on July 5, 2009 over several days in Urumqi, the capital city of the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, in northwestern China, between Uyghurs and Han people. (Photo by OZAN KOSE / AFP)        (Photo credit should read OZAN KOSE/AFP/Getty Images)
OZAN KOSE/AFP/AFP/Getty Images
TOPSHOT - A demonstrator wearing a mask painted with the colours of the flag of East Turkestan and a hand bearing the colours of the Chinese flag attends a protest of supporters of the mostly Muslim Uighur minority and Turkish nationalists to denounce China's treatment of ethnic Uighur Muslims during a deadly riot in July 2009 in Urumqi, in front of the Chinese consulate in Istanbul, on July 5, 2018. - Nearly 200 people died during a series of violent riots that broke out on July 5, 2009 over several days in Urumqi, the capital city of the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, in northwestern China, between Uyghurs and Han people. (Photo by OZAN KOSE / AFP) (Photo credit should read OZAN KOSE/AFP/Getty Images)
Now playing
01:16
Facebook: Chinese hackers targeted Uyghurs living in US
A Facebook employee walks by a sign displaying the "like" sign at Facebook's corporate headquarters campus in Menlo Park, California, on October 23, 2019. (Photo by Josh Edelson / AFP) (Photo by JOSH EDELSON/AFP via Getty Images)
Josh Edelson/AFP/Getty Images
A Facebook employee walks by a sign displaying the "like" sign at Facebook's corporate headquarters campus in Menlo Park, California, on October 23, 2019. (Photo by Josh Edelson / AFP) (Photo by JOSH EDELSON/AFP via Getty Images)
Now playing
02:36
Facebook to restore news in Australia
Chris, a Trump supporter, reacts to a fact check of a manipulated video shared by the Trump campaign.
CNN
Chris, a Trump supporter, reacts to a fact check of a manipulated video shared by the Trump campaign.
Now playing
03:58
What Trump supporters see on their Facebook feeds
CNN
Now playing
02:03
Watch this former exec compare Facebook to Big Tobacco
Screengrab Nick Clegg facebook
CNN
Screengrab Nick Clegg facebook
Now playing
07:34
Facebook exec explains the company's US election actions
Getty Images
Now playing
05:15
Misleading videos shared by Republicans get millions of views
Now playing
02:24
Under questioning, Zuckerberg admits Instagram was a 'competitor'
Now playing
03:31
Congresswoman grills Facebook CEO on copying competitors
From Facebook
Now playing
02:40
Zuckerberg blasts Trump administration for worsening pandemic
Glenn Chapman/AFP/Getty Images/CNN
Now playing
03:38
He says Facebook's Libra is the future. Lawmakers aren't so sure
YouTube/Financial Services Committee
Now playing
02:15
Zuckerberg struggles to explain whether Facebook fact checks political ads
Facebook's CEO Mark Zuckerberg delivers his speech during the VivaTech (Viva Technology) trade fair in Paris, on May 24, 2018. (Photo by GERARD JULIEN / AFP)        (Photo credit should read GERARD JULIEN/AFP/Getty Images)
GERARD JULIEN/AFP/Getty Images
Facebook's CEO Mark Zuckerberg delivers his speech during the VivaTech (Viva Technology) trade fair in Paris, on May 24, 2018. (Photo by GERARD JULIEN / AFP) (Photo credit should read GERARD JULIEN/AFP/Getty Images)
Now playing
03:21
This is how Facebook kills its competition
facebook zuckerberg origin business orig _00011530.jpg
facebook zuckerberg origin business orig _00011530.jpg
Now playing
01:47
It took Facebook 15 years to take over the world. Here's how
(CNN Business) —  

Facebook is back with another mea culpa.

This time, the company acknowledges that it mishandled sensitive passwords for hundreds of millions of its users, primarily those who use its Facebook Lite product. The disclosure casts doubt on the company’s abilities to protect its users’ information as it focuses more on privacy.

On Thursday, Facebook (FB) said it didn’t properly mask the passwords of hundreds of millions of its users and stored them as plain text in an internal database that could be accessed by its staff.

The company said it discovered the exposed passwords during a security review in January and launched an investigation. Facebook did not say how long it had been storing passwords in this way.

Facebook shared information about the security incident publicly soon after it was first reported by Krebs on Security.

“To be clear, these passwords were never visible to anyone outside of Facebook and we have found no evidence to date that anyone internally abused or improperly accessed them,” Pedro Canahuati, a Facebook vice president wrote on Thursday in a post titled, “Keeping Passwords Secure.”

He added that Facebook typically “masks people’s passwords when they create an account so that no one at the company can see them.”

A Facebook spokesperson told CNN Business the password issue primarily but not exclusively affected systems associated with Facebook Lite. Hundreds of millions of users of Facebook Lite had been impacted, while tens of millions of regular Facebook users and tends of thousands of Instagram users were affected, the company said. Facebook Lite — a simplified version of Facebook designed to work on slower internet connections — is popular among people in parts of the world with less connectivity.

Facebook said it will be notifying affected users.

Keeping passwords hashed, or encrypted, is widely regarded as fundamental to cybersecurity.

“Encrypting passwords is Security 101,” said Marcus Carey, the CEO Threatcare, an Austin cybersecurity company. “If they can’t get the basic principles of cybersecurity right, they are surely failing on the tougher challenges.”

In Europe, Facebook is headquartered in Ireland, where it is regulated by the Irish Data Protection Commission. A commission spokesperson told CNN Business that Facebook had informed it of the issue and that it was awaiting further information. The commission currently has several investigations into Facebook’s compliance with European data laws ongoing; the company could face fines upwards of $1 billion as a result of those investigations.

The news comes days after the one year anniversary of the Cambridge Analytica scandal in which it was revealed that Facebook shared the personal data of as many as 87 million users with a political data firm. It’s since been a year of near constant issues for Facebook, including reported criminal investigations, a possible record fine from the FTC, the departure of numerous high-ranking executives, regulatory scrutiny in the US and Europe, and a lengthy outage just last week.

The company has faced a number of cybersecurity problems, too. In September, an attack on Facebook exposed the private profile information for nearly 50 million of the social network’s users. In addition, Facebook announced in December it exposed the private photos as many as 6.8 million users without their permission.

Earlier this month, the company said it was pivoting to a privacy-focused model by adding end-to-end encryption to its various messaging services.