Facebook privacy-setting bug made 14 million users’ posts public

08 June, 2018, 07:25 | Author: Patty Hardy
  • A Facebook booth is seen at the China International Big Data Industry Expo in Guiyang Guizhou province China

It's the latest privacy scandal in what has been a hard few months for the world's largest social media company.

The bug accidentally actively changed the privacy settings for 14 million users around the world from May 18 until May 22, making all posts shared during that time visible to the public, and the company switched all settings back to the users' preferred settings by May 27, according to press reports.

Starting today, affected users will begin seeing messages from Facebook that encourage them to "Please Review Your Posts".

Facebook was back in the spotlight in the past few days after the New York Times reported that Facebook had data-sharing contracts with device makers like Apple and Samsung. In the meantime, you can take solace in the fact that this glitch only affected 0.007 percent of Facebook users - which is 14 million people.

It could be. Jonathan Mayer, a professor of computer science and public affairs at Princeton University, wrote on Twitter that this gaffe "looks like a viable Federal Trade Commission (FTC)/state attorney general deception case".

In its most recent trouble, the company revealed it had been sharing data with partners in China, which happens to be the last country most privacy-conscious users would want to share data with.

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Users who noticed the change could return the suggested setting to private. Even if the bug was an accident on Facebook's part, Mayer said in an email that the FTC can bring enforcement action for privacy mistakes.

After the bug was detected, Facebook engineers spent an additional 5 days resetting any new posts made by these users to the default setting that they had previously been using.

"This bug occurred as we were building a new way to share featured items on your profile, like a photo". Unfortunately, the feature caused all new posts, not just the featured items, to be made "public".

The bug automatically updated the audience for some users' posts to "public" without any warning.

When people post to Facebook, the service suggests a default distribution for their posts based on past privacy settings.

Update 6/7/18 19:08EST: Updated with information provided by Facebook to BleepingComputer and to further make it clear it was news posts, not existing posts that were set to Public.

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