I've added a lot of Chrome extensions to the browser over the years, and today's as good a time as any to take stock of what you've added to Google's web browser. That's because Facebook is suing two companies over what it believes to be malicious browser extensions that mine user data without approval.
ZDnet (opens in new tab) reports the lawsuit was filed yesterday (Oct. 2) against BrandTotal Ltd. (based in Israel) and Unimania Inc. (incorporated in Delaware), over their extensions, UpVoice (opens in new tab) and Ads Feed (opens in new tab) (respectively). Those links do not work right now, though, as it appears both extensions have been booted from the Chrome Web Store.
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Once installed on browsers, the extensions would scrape (quietly collect in the background) data from Facebook and Instagram profiles, as well as information from Amazon, Twitter, and YouTube accounts, the suit alleges.
The details of the specific data stolen were not revealed. But this information often includes user data from profiles, including their names, user ID (which often is an email address) dates of birth, gender, and location.
How did they make it onto these laptops? Offers of something for nothing, according to Facebook.
Specifically, UpVoice promised that you'd get store gift cards (for outlets such as Nike, AMC, Visa and Walmart) in exchange for having the extension installed while browsing Facebook, YouTube, LinkedIn, Amazon and Twitter.
Ads Feed told users they'd join "a panel member of an elite community group that impacts the advertising decisions of multi-billion dollar corporations!"
But just because they were kicked out doesn't mean you're able to move on. The extensions, UpVoice (installed by more than 5,000 users) and Ads Feed (installed by more than 10,000 users) may still be installed in your browsers.
What you should do
First, anyone running Chrome, Brave, Opera, the new version of Microsoft Edge and any other browser based on the Chromium framework should check to see if either extension is installed.
Having run through my dad's laptop recently, and having seen a plethora of extensions he wasn't aware were there, I need to tell you to not assume you know what's on your system.
UpVoice and Ads Feed may have found their way into your browser without you knowing, so it's a good time to make sure.
In Chrome, click the Puzzle Piece icon on the right end of your browser's menu bar and then click Manage Extensions. Click Remove under offending extensions.
In Brave, go to Menu > More > Tools > Extensions, and then click Remove next to an extension.
In Opera, click Menu, then Extensions and Extensions again. You'll then see an X in the top right corner near extension, click that to uninstall.
In the Chromium-based Edge, select Settings and more, then click Extensions. Then, under the bad extension, click Remove.