Scarlet for them: Facebook reveals glitch that made 14m users’ posts public

8 Jun 2018271 Views

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Image: Kang Sunghee/Shutterstock

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Red faces all round as Facebook is about to let you know if it changed your private posts to public recently.

Facebook has admitted that a bug in its systems switched the sharing settings of 14m users to public between 18 and 27 May.

In another privacy debacle to affect the hapless social networking giant, the bug changed the suggested privacy setting for status updates to public from whatever they had set it to last.

‘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’
– ERIN EGAN

In effect, 14m people unknowingly ran the gauntlet of posting sensitive friends-only content to the world.

From today (8 June), Facebook will notify these people around the world who were impacted by the bug and ask them to review their status updates set-up.

Disclosure

“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,” said Erin Egan, Facebook’s chief privacy officer.

Egan said the bug occurred as the social network was building a new way for users to share featured items on their profile, such as a photo.

“Since these featured items are public, the suggested audience for all new posts – not just these items – was set to public. The problem has been fixed and, for anyone affected, we changed the audience back to what they’d been using before.

facebook privacy notice

Image: Facebook

“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 glitch is the last thing Facebook needs after months of dealing with the fallout of the Cambridge Analytica data scandal that saw a rogue app potentially misused by political analysts to skew the results of an election and referendum in the US and UK, respectively.

However, Facebook ’fessing up by its own volition is a new thing.

“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. And that is what we are doing here,” said Egan.

Editor John Kennedy is an award-winning technology journalist.

editorial@siliconrepublic.com