Facebook Bug: New Privacy Blunder Hits 14 Million People, Social Network Says – Tech News| Tech News
Millions of Facebook users have been dragged into yet another privacy scandal involving the social network, after the company confirmed Thursday that between May 18 and May 27, some posts were sent out to a fully public audience without users’ consent, due to a glitch.
Erin Egan, Facebook’s chief privacy officer, revealed in a blog post that a whopping 14 million users were being asked to review any updates they made during that nine-day period.
Typically, when a user shares to Facebook, the site shows an “audience selector” to help them decide who sees the post. The setting is based on who the update was shared with last: for example, “friends only” or “public.” The bug means that millions of people were automatically suggested to post publicly by default, meaning some content believed to be private was visible to the world.
Facebook said the technical error did not impact anything posted before May 18, and executives stressed this week that accounts still had the ability to change the audience selector manually.
“This bug occurred as we were building a new way to share featured items on your profile, like a photo,” Egan wrote. “Since these featured items are public, the suggested audience for all new posts—not just these items—was set to public,” she continued. “The problem has been fixed, and for anyone affected, we changed the audience back to what they’d been using before.
“Out of an abundance of caution we are letting anyone affected know today and asking them to review Facebook posts they made during that time. If you posted publicly, you’ll see a notification when you log in that leads to a page with more information including a review of posts during this period.”
The notification contained an apology for the mistake. On the same day as the announcement, Facebook also confirmed plans to launch a game-streaming service, and outlined how it would protect the upcoming July 1 Mexico election from online abuse, exploitation and fake news.
Facebook has been embroiled in privacy scandals since news emerged that data linked to an estimated 87 million accounts had been obtained and potentially exploited by Cambridge Analytica, a political profiling company with ties to Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg was called before the U.S. Congress to answer questions about his approach to privacy.
The firm, which is currently conducting an audit of the third-party applications using data from its platform, was recently criticized for allegedly handing user information to dozens of technology companies. Those companies include Huawei, which the U.S. government fears (without releasing evidence to the public) is linked with Chinese espionage. In May, Facebook suspended around 200 rogue apps.
On Thursday, the California-based social networking goliath said it was learning from its mistakes by notifying the 14 million users about the newest privacy blunder. “We’ve heard loud and clear that we need to be more transparent about how we build our products and how those products use your data—including when things go wrong,” Egan wrote. “And that is what we are doing here.”