Facebook bug set 14 million users' sharing settings to public

Jun 08, 2018, 06:16
Facebook bug set 14 million users' sharing settings to public

But, for four days in May, the bug ignored user preferences and set the default audience for all new posts to "public", the company said. The bug apparently affected 14 million people, although it seems Facebook doesn't know how many of those users may have actually posted something to the public. To be clear, this bug did not impact anything people had posted before - and they could still choose their audience just as they always have.

"We'd like to apologise for this mistake", said Erin Egan, Facebook's head of privacy.

The bug affected posts shared between May 18 and May 27, though Facebook started rolling out a fix on May 22.

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.

The mistake happened, that company said, when it was building a new way for people to share "featured items" on their profiles.

When users post to Facebook, there is a menu option that dictates who sees that post. That means if an eagle-eyed user didn't catch the bug, they likely shared some status updates publicly on Facebook that they meant to share only with friends.

Facebook's admission comes at a testy time for the Menlo Park-based social network, which continues to deal with a stream of privacy-related scandals set off by the revelation this year that political firm Cambridge Analytica had obtained millions of users' personal information without their permission.

Facebook says the issue has now been fixed and that the user's privacy settings have been returned to their original state.

Normally, a new post will default to whichever setting was selected for the previous one, but in this case all new messages automatically went to public.

Facebook just can't get it together as we learn about another major privacy breach on their platform.

It was unclear if users could have done anything to their settings to prevent being affected by the bug the company revealed on Thursday.

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