Facebook Bug Causes 14 Million Users Posts to be Shared Publicly
Jun 08, 2018, 02:59
A Facebook bug that was live for four days in May set millions of users' default sharing settings to public, the company revealed on Thursday. Your secrets are safe - unless someone saw them, of course.
After the bug was detected, Facebook engineers spent 5 days resetting posts created by affected users to private, even if that was the original intent.
Affected users will see an alert in their notifications about the error and will be able to review the posts that went public. It will also show affected users a notification with an explanation and apology, and urge them to review any posts they made during the time period when the bug was active.
"We'd like to apologize for this mistake", Erin Egan, Facebook's chief privacy officer, said in today's statement.
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How did this happen?
Facebook said this affected users posting between May 18 and May 27 as it was implementing a new way to share some items such as photos. If users did not notice the new default suggestion, they unwittingly sent their post to a broader audience than they had intended.
Jonathan Mayer, a professor of computer science and public affairs at Princeton University, said on Twitter that this latest privacy gaffe "looks like a viable Federal Trade Commission/state attorney general deception case".
Facebook said that it was today beginning to notify affected users.
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The bug caps off a string of recent controversies for Facebook, most notably the Cambridge Analytica scandal, which resulted in 87 million users' data being harvested without their knowledge and shared with the Trump-affiliated research firm. For a bug to break that system for millions of users is yet another major problem Facebook is going to have to deal with.
Facebook's 2011 consent decree with the FTC calls for the company to get "express consent" from users before sharing their information beyond what they established in their privacy settings.
Facebook tells TechCrunch that it hears loud and clear that it must be more transparent about its product and privacy settings, especially when it messes up.
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