Facebook’s latest blunder made private posts public for 14M users

Yolanda Curtis
June 8, 2018

Facebook acknowledged Thursday, June 7, United States time, a software glitch that changed the settings of some 14 million users, potentially making some posts public even if they were meant to be private.

Users can also manually change the privacy of the posts - anywhere from "public" to "only me" - when publishing to Facebook.

The mixup was the result of a bug that automatically suggested posts be set to public, meaning the posts could be viewed by anyone, including people not logged on to Facebook.

When attempting to test a feature on users' profiles, developers introduced a bug that exposed the posts of some individuals who thought they were posting privately, Facebook revealed. In the meantime, you can take solace in the fact that this glitch only affected 0.007 percent of Facebook users - which is 14 million people.

"Starting today we are letting everyone affected know and asking them to review any posts they made during that time", Egan said. It is not clear, however, how many people shared something publicly that they didn't want to be made public or how many might have noticed the change in settings before posting. "We'd like to apologize for this mistake".

Facebook confirmed earlier this week that China-based Huawei - which has been banned by the United States military and is a lightning rod for cyberespionage concerns - was among device makers authorized to see user data in agreements that had been in place for years.

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".

That's because the company had promised that the setting users set in their most recent privacy preferences would be maintained for future posts.

These items, which include posts and photo albums, are automatically public. Even if the bug was an accident on Facebook's part, Mayer said in an email that the FTC can bring enforcement action for privacy mistakes.

Update 6/7/18 19:08EST: Updated with information provided by Facebook to BleepingComputer and to further make it clear it was news posts, not existing posts that were set to Public.

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