Multiple Snap employees reportedly accessed user data improperly - including location information, phone numbers, and saved Snaps

evan spiegel snapchat snapCo-Founder and CEO of Snap Inc. Evan Spiegel speaks onstage during Vanity Fair New Establishment Summit at Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts on October 3, 2017 in Beverly Hills, California.Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty Images

  • Multiple Snap employees improperly accessed user information through internal tools, giving them the ability to spy on individuals using the video and messaging service, according to a Motherboard report on Thursday.
  • According to Motherboard, multiple Snap employees abused their access to user data "several years ago," - which in some instances could have included location information, saved Snaps, and personal information such as phone numbers and email addresses.
  • The report, however, said it was unable to conclude exactly how the data was misused.
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Years ago, multiple Snap employees improperly accessed user information through internal tools, giving them the ability to spy on individuals using the video and messaging service, according to a Motherboard report on Thursday.

The data look-up system - known internally as "SnapLion" - was originally built by the company to help fulfill requests from law enforcement officers (or LEOs) who needed user information for things like court orders or subpoenas, according to the report. "LEO," the acronym for law enforcement officer and name of the cartoon character "Leo the Lion," eventually helped the data tool get its name, "SnapLion."

But according to sources and correspondence obtained by Motherboard, multiple Snap employees abused their access to user data at the time. In some instances, that access would have included the ability to look up location information, saved Snaps, and personal information such as phone numbers and email addresses.

In its report, however, Motherboard said it was unable to conclude exactly how the data was misused. The report also didn't specify a precise timeframe for when this abuse could have occurred, other than that to say it was "several years ago."

A Snap spokesperson did not immediately respond to Business Insider's request for comment.

Read more: Facebook banned 2.2 billion fake accounts in the first 3 months of this year. That's almost equal to the number of real people who use it.

One former employee in the Motherboard report said that early tracking of who at the company was accessing user data through SnapLion was unsatisfactory. Better monitoring was established over time, the former employee told Motherboard.

Read the full Motherboard report here.

Get the latest Snap stock price here.
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