[4/5/21] – Facebook Data Breach

In the age of social isolation one thing that has bound us together is the fabric we weave using threads of social media. Twitter, TikTok, Instagram, and Facebook took on new meanings and drew millions of new users during this last year…myself included. Each agent of social media has had its bouts with hackers and data leaks, and global networks like Facebook are no exception. Last week, sensitive information of 533 million Facebook users leaked in 2019 – information ranging from telephone numbers to birthdates – was remerged online for free. Facebook users are advised to beware “social engineering attacks” which are anticipated to occur in the coming months. The more we come to rely on technology for everything from grocery shopping to transportation to social interactions, the more we become vulnerable to social engineering attacks. In this week’s Lecture Spark, we explore the social drivers of the technological imperative and its social consequences through the lens of sociology. 

Download the PowerPoint Lecture Spark for Facebook Data Breach

Learning Objectives

LO1: Debate the pros and cons of an increased reliance on technology in society.

LO2: Understand the social drivers and social consequences associated with large data breaches.

LO3: Explain how social factors contribute to the proliferation of technology.


Facebook security breach: How to know if you got hacked

Facebook says it is dealing with the largest security breach in the company’s history. The cyberattack, which happened Tuesday, exposed the personal information of nearly 50 million users. It’s just the latest hack on the social media giant. Wired magazine editor-in-chief Nicholas Thompson joins “CBS This Morning: Saturday” to discuss why we still don’t know what information hackers stole and how to tell if you are one of the users whose information was exposed.

Leak Exposes 267M Facebook Users’ Data


A Facebook data breach is affecting millions of users; KDKA’s Lindsay Ward reports.

Facebook data of millions may have been leaked

A leaker says they are offering information on more than 500 million Facebook users, including phone numbers and other data, virtually for free.

Discussion Questions

What are the risks associated with using social media? What are the risks associated with not using social media? Why might people still use social media platforms even after knowledge that their personal information has been leaked to nefarious sources? How much reliance on technology for interaction is too much, and why?

Who is responsible for the negative consequences associated with the “social engineering attacks” that are likely to occur in the coming months? Should Facebook be held accountable for the leaking of user data? Why or why not? What other social institutions (e.g., government, economy, education) can function in ways to protect these now vulnerable Facebook users?

How has the coronavirus pandemic caused people to use technology more than ever before? What do you use technology for the most? How would your life be different without the technology you use most today? What limitations do you impose on yourself and/or your family in terms of technology usage?

How do you assess the utility of new technology? Why might some Americans avoid trying new technology? How can a refusal to use new technology result in a stigmatizing label? What social benefits come from using new technology? How has our increased reliance on technology influenced how we interact and transact with other people?

How does our increased use of technology make people unsafe in other areas of social life? What other types of attacks does our increased reliance on technology make us vulnerable to? How would social life be fundamentally in the absence of technology? How would people react if social media specifically were to be deemed unsafe and removed from society?


Sociologists define the concept of _______ as a cultural trend where new technology is something that is inevitable and is also deemed essential.

a. Technological advancements
b. Technological imperative
c. Technological socialism
d. Technological reliance

Isabella stopped using her Facebook account after learning her data was leaked. Her friends stopped talking to her and she was rejected by many of her peers. They labeled her an outsider because of her reluctance to use social media. Sociologists refer to this practice and process of intentionally devaluing other humans through labels to block their access to success as _______.

a. Stigmatization
b. Astigmatism
c. Assimilation
d. Self-Fulfilling Prophecy

From a _______ perspective, the most interesting aspect of the Facebook data leak is how social institutions will respond to restore stability to society.

a. Conflict
b. Interactionist
c. Functionalist
d. Fundamentalist

Photo credit: iStockphoto.com/luchezar

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