Millions of Instagram influencers had their private contact data scraped and exposed

A massive database containing contact information of millions of Instagram influencers, celebrities and brand accounts has been found online.

The database, hosted by Amazon Web Services, was left exposed and without a password allowing anyone to look inside. At the time of writing, the database had over 49 million records — but was growing by the hour.

From a brief review of the data, each record contained public data scraped from influencer Instagram accounts, including their bio, profile picture, the number of followers they have, if they’re verified and their location by city and country, but also contained their private contact information, such as the Instagram account owner’s email address and phone number.

Security researcher Anurag Sen discovered the database and alerted TechCrunch in an effort to find the owner and get the database secured. We traced the database back to Mumbai-based social media marketing firm Chtrbox, which pays influencers to post sponsored content on their accounts. Each record in the database contained a record that calculated the worth of each account, based off the number of followers, engagement, reach, likes and shares they had. This was used as a metric to determine how much the company could pay an Instagram celebrity or influencer to post an ad.

TechCrunch found several high-profile influencers in the exposed database, including prominent food bloggers, celebrities and other social media influencers.

We contacted several people at random whose information was found in the database and provided them their phone numbers. Two of the people responded and confirmed their email address and phone number found in the database was used to set up their Instagram accounts. Neither had any involvement with Chtrbox, they said.

Shortly after we reached out, Chtrbox pulled the database offline. Pranay Swarup, the company’s founder and chief executive, did not respond to a request for comment and several questions, including how the company obtained private Instagram account email addresses and phone numbers.

The scraping effort comes two years after Instagram admitted a security bug in its developer API allowed hackers to obtain the email addresses and phone numbers of six million Instagram accounts. The hackers later sold the data for bitcoin.

Months later, Instagram — now with more than a billion users — choked its API to limit the number of requests apps and developers can make on the platform.

Facebook, which owns Instagram, said it was looking into the matter. “Scraping data of any kind is prohibited on Instagram,” said a spokesperson. “We’re investigating how and what data was obtained and will share an update soon.”

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Ford CTO Ken Washington at TC Sessions: Mobility on July 10

A conference dedicated to transportation and mobility wouldn’t be complete without hearing from Ford, the U.S. automaker with a storied 116-year history.

We’re excited to announce that Ford CTO Ken Washington will participate in TechCrunch’s inaugural TC Sessions: Mobility, a one-day event on July 10, 2019 in San Jose, Calif., that’s bringing the best and brightest minds — founders, investors and technologists — who are determined to invent a future Henry Ford might never have imagined. Or maybe he did.

If there’s a person at Ford who can provide insight into where the company is headed, it’s Washington.

As CTO and vice president of Research and Advanced Engineering, Washington leads Ford’s worldwide research organization, oversees the development and implementation of the company’s technology strategy and plans and plays a key role in its expansion into emerging mobility opportunities.

Prior to joining Ford, he was vice president of the Advanced Technology Center at Lockheed Martin Space Systems Company, where he led a team of scientists and engineers in performing research and development in space science and related R&D.

TC Sessions: Mobility has a jam-packed agenda, overflowing with some of the biggest names and most exciting startups in the transportation industry. With early-bird ticket sales ending soon, you’ll want to be sure to grab your tickets after checking out this agenda.

Throughout the day, you can expect to hear from and partake in discussions about the future of transportation, the promise and problems of autonomous vehicles, the potential for bikes and scooters, investing in early-stage startups and more.

We’ll be joined by some of the most esteemed and prescient people in the space, including Dmitri Dolgov  at WaymoArgo AI Chief Safety Officer Summer Craze Fowler, Nuro co-founder Dave FergusonKarl Iagnemma of Aptiv, Voyage CEO Oliver Cameron and Seleta Reynolds of the Los Angeles Department of Transportation.

Early-bird tickets are now on sale — save $100 on tickets before prices go up.

Students, you can grab your tickets for just $45.

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How GM Cruise uses its Dashride acquisition to build a robo-taxi company

Cruise Automation acquired a fleet management company to help keep track of its self-driving vehicles.
Cruise Automation acquired a fleet management company to help keep track of its self-driving vehicles.
Image: Smith Collection/Gado/Getty Images

It started back in their college days when Thomas Bachant and Nadav Ullman were trying to get safe rides around the University of Connecticut campus. There was a disconnect between the partygoers who needed a ride and the designated, sober drivers.

So the two teamed up and built a mobile app, Sobrio, to make it easier to find someone going out but not drinking. When that took off at their campus they brought it to other universities. After graduation, they bought an RV and drove from campus to campus to get students hooked up to the ride platform.

Eventually they started getting calls from fleet managers who said that they wanted what they had built for universities for, say, a limo company’s service. Sobrio became Dashride and the team was then working with ground transportation companies on their dispatching software, booking, billing, and other operations. 

Now the co-founders are working with one of the biggest companies in the self-driving space, General Motor’s Cruise Automation. Cruise raised $1.15 billion earlier this month, now valuing the GM- and Honda-backed company at $19 billion. Late last year, the San Francisco-based autonomous vehicle company acquired Dashride and its seven-member engineering team. 

It makes a lot of sense: Cruise is preparing for a taxi service in San Francisco by the end of this year. As of February, 175 Cruise cars were registered for self-driving testing in California. The taxis will be autonomous all-electric Chevy Bolt cars — and several hundred will eventually be available for a hired ride as part of the Cruise network.

That’s a lot of charge levels, equipment, miles driven, maintenance checks and more to keep track of — which is where Dashride comes in.

The Dashride team with one of the Cruise autonomous vehicles.

The Dashride team with one of the Cruise autonomous vehicles.

Image: cruise

Through their fleet management software the team is taking their experience monitoring and managing fleets of delivery, campus, and non-medical emergency vehicles and translating that into a system where one day no one’s in the driver’s seat noticing a low battery warning.

Bachant compared robo-cars to human-driven vehicles in a recent phone call with Mashable: “Think about a human with a car. They’re gonna know when their car is low on fuel, or when to go in for an oil change.” But now with Cruise the team is thinking about “how a fleet operates without drivers,” Ullman added. 

The “dash” in their acquired company’s name hints at the “mission control”-like dashboard that Cruise now uses to track its vehicles on a map and with key data points like charge level, time out on the road, and where that particular car is due next.

Behind the scenes of Cruise's self-driving fleet.

Behind the scenes of Cruise’s self-driving fleet.

Image: Cruise automation

Fleet management is nothing new — for truck and delivery companies tracking trips and vehicles is crucial and has been for decades. Canadian company Geotab, a connected vehicle and data company, tracks 1.6 million vehicles, including many part of large commercial fleets like at PepsiCo and UPS.

Mike Branch, VP of data and analytics at Geotab, in a phone call last week explained how once fleets plug in the company’s device into the van, taxi, garbage truck, or other vehicles, Geotab “can tell you when your battery is going to die on your vehicle before it does.”

A connected truck reports back on its engine health or other needs.

A connected truck reports back on its engine health or other needs.

Image: geotab

As fleets and long-haul truck routes slowly become robot-controlled, predicative maintenance and tracking data help manage an “unmanned” system that won’t have a driver to flag issues. 

“You need to be able to connect these things together,” Branch, speaking from the perspective of an actual autonomous vehicle, said, “Whether or not I’m healthy, what’s my tire pressure, how many miles have I driven, what’s my engine health, am I in range?”

As Cruise’s Bachant said, “we’ve already removed the human from the driver seat, now we remove it from operations.” It’s all about autonomy.

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Chaos Theory: When clutter takes over

What to do when clutter has taken over your life

What to do when clutter has taken over your life

Heads up: All products featured here are selected by Mashable’s commerce team and meet our rigorous standards for awesomeness. If you buy something, Mashable may earn an affiliate commission.

It starts out simple enough — a stack of unopened mail here, a pile of unmatched socks there. You’ll get to them, you say. Later this week perhaps, and if not by Wednesday then definitely this weekend.

But then you don’t.

And it starts to grow, each collection absorbing more matter until the thought of doing anything at all has become overwhelming. Where would you even start? You can jam more stuff into drawers, but that’ll only get you so far. Besides, it’s only a matter of time before the clutter comes back. So you dim the lights, put the mess out of your line of sight, and queue up some Netflix instead.

Clutter is more than just an unsightly collection of discarded phone chargers, winter scarves, magazines you’ll never read, children’s toys, leftover screws from Ikea furniture, free canvas tote bags, haphazard shoes — the list goes on. Living in a home that’s dominated by clutter can also have negative effects on your health and wellbeing.

According to a few studies in recent years, living in a home that you perceive as cluttered can lead to increased cortisol — the “stress hormone” — which could be what’s giving you that anxious feeling. It can also promote procrastination, which can have a sort of chicken and egg effect. The more stuff there is that you don’t know what to do with, the longer it may take you to figure it out.

There’s hope though — and we’re here to say that clutter doesn’t have to take over your life. In fact, the solution can be pretty simple: Identify the most common clutter categories afflicting your home, and then designate a location and organizational structure for that specific type of clutter. When everything in your home has an assigned spot, you’ll know exactly where it needs to go and eliminate the development of “I’ll deal with this later” piles.

For our purposes, we’re looking at clothing, papers, and spice jars — the clutter that I, dear reader, always struggle with. (Or course, the same theory can be applied to other categories too.) We’ll walk you through our picks for the top three clutter-busting products below.

CLUTTER ISSUE #1

SOLUTION: Linen drawer organizers

PRICE: $14.99, or get a starter kit of four for $59.96

If you’re anything like me and binge-watched all of Tidying Up with Marie Kondo in an effort to find “inspiration,” then these drawer organizers will probably fill you with glee.

After you’ve sifted through everything and figured out what “brings you joy,” use these linen drawer organizers from the Container Store to give each shirt and pair of socks its own specific, designated space. Following this method in my drawers has completely changed the way my space looks. Now that everything has a defined spot, there’s no need to contend with the dreaded clothing chair.

CLUTTER ISSUE #2

SOLUTION: A multifunctional desktop organizer

PRICE: $59.95

In the words of Destiny’s Child: “Bills, bills, bills.”

I’ve never been good about dealing with paper clutter. At any given time there is a stack of magazines, flyers, unopened mail, and catalogs at some place in my home. When my partner and I moved in together a few years ago, the mountain of accumulated papers seemed to double overnight. And as a writer and a teacher living together, our pen and pencil habit has grown to staggering proportions.

This bamboo desktop file folder and organizer is like a control center for all the assorted paper that’s coming and going from your space. The seven slots on top can help you designate a mail location for each member of the household, while the drawer underneath collects all those sticky notes, pens, and notepads in one place. Simply close the drawer and everything is tucked away underneath. Similar iterations of this product include easy magazine storage, as well as a desktop caddy perfect for an iPad or other small tech items.

CLUTTER ISSUE #3

Spice cabinets are great and all, but it can be truly frustrating trying to find exactly what you need while your stew bubbles over below. For anyone who’s endured a crowded cabinet, you know the struggle: In search of the cumin, you’re forced to remove every other spice jar first, leaving your counter littered with half-used bottles that all look pretty much the same from a certain angle.

Dear friend: Invest in a rotating spice rack like this one from the Container Store and rejoice in the simplicity of its design. This thing swivels, y’all. You will never have to remove all the spices in the front of the cabinet just to see what’s in back — simply give the Lazy Susan a turn and survey your options without removing a single jar. Made of stainless steel, this rack is super easy to wipe down and the two-tier design means you can pack a lot into its small footprint.

  • Author

    Nicole Cammorata

  • Art Director

    Brittany Gonçalves

  • Photography

    Dustin Drankoski

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'Game of Thrones' is over, so it's time to pre-order the complete box set

Just to let you know, if you buy something featured here, Mashable might earn an affiliate commission.
Experience the epic series again (and again and again).
Experience the epic series again (and again and again).
Image: HBO

No matter how you feel about the series finale, there is simply no denying that Game of Thrones was a monumentally important show that meant the world to its viewers for nearly a decade. We’re all mourning the end of the journey, but it doesn’t all have to be tears. 

Why? Because you can always start the show all over again. Pre-order the Game of Thrones Collector’s Edition Blu-ray set for only $300 (lolz) and you can pretend like it never ended. 

If you’re a GOT die-hard, this set was pretty much made for you. The complete collector’s set includes all 73 episodes spanning seasons one through eight of the epic series, as well as 15 whole hours of bonus content and never-before-seen footage that will take a deep dive into the creation of the show. Get ready to relive all of your favorite scenes, shocking twists, and painful goodbyes once more (or however many times you want if you pick up the set).  

Night gathers, and now your re-watch begins — secure your pre-order for the Game of Thrones: Seasons 1-8 Collector’s Edition on Amazon

Image: Amazon

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