Facebook notifies users of bug that unblocked people they blocked

3 Jul 2018

Image: Paparacy/Shutterstock

Facebook confirms that blocked users were able to see some of the content posted by individuals who had blocked them.

Facebook has confirmed that 800,000 users were affected by a bug that resulted in blocked individuals getting temporarily unblocked. This allowed them to see some of the content posted by people who had blocked them.

“The bug was active between 29 May and 5 June – and, while someone who was unblocked could not see content shared with friends, they could have seen things posted to a wider audience,” explained Facebook’s chief privacy officer, Erin Egan.

“For example, pictures shared with friends of friends. We know that the ability to block someone is important, and we’d like to apologise and explain what happened.”

Blasts from the past

When you block someone on Facebook, they cannot see things you post on your profile, start conversations with you on Messenger or add you as a friend. Blocking also automatically unfriends them if you were previously friends.

People block others on Facebook for a myriad of reasons, often when a relationship changes or if they find someone posting annoying content. However, other reasons can be more serious, such as bullying or harassment.

Egan said that in the case of the bug, it did not reinstate any friend connections that had been severed, and 83pc of people affected by the bug had only one person they had blocked temporarily unblocked.

However, someone who was unblocked might have been able to contact people on Messenger who had blocked them.

Users may not realise they have even been affected but keep an eye out for notifications so you know.

In related news, it emerged that Facebook gave 61 businesses – including Nike, Spotify, UPS, the dating app Hinge, Oracle Panasonic, Snap, AOL and Nissan – special access to user data after it blocked such access broadly.

The revelation came in written responses to US Congress in the aftermath of the Cambridge Analytica data scandal whereby Facebook has been under pressure to reveal more details about its business practices.

Facebook introduced stricter guidelines for third-party apps in April 2014; however, it gave a number of businesses up to six months worth of extensions.

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years