Facebook Flaw May Have Exposed Private Photos

Yolanda Curtis
December 16, 2018

The company had disclosed the issue earlier on Friday, saying the bug had allowed some 1,500 software apps to access private photos for 12 days ending September 25.

Meanwhile, Facebook is working directly with the 876 developers who created over 1,500 apps affected by the bug.

Although this doesn't mean the photos were actually seen by anyone, the revelation of the bug offers another reminder of just how much data Facebook has on its 2.27 billion users and how often these sorts of slipups happen.

Though the issue isn't as harmful to consumers as Facebook's other recent privacy-related problems, Katie McInnis, policy counsel at Consumer Reports, questioned why it took so long for the social network to notify users.

When it comes to third-party Facebook apps and their access to user photos, the way it works is pretty simple: apps can only access public photos which appear on a given user's timeline.

Bar said affected users would be notified and directed to a help center where they will be able to see what images may have been affected.

Tomer Bar, Facebook's engineering director, said that when someone gives permission for an app to access their photos, the app is usually only granted access to pictures that people share on their timeline.

Facebook said some third-party apps may have gained access to broader set of photos than usual for 12 days between September 13 to September 25. Developers should have been directed to delete the photos but users can see if they were, if any were compromised at all.

The privacy breach lasted for 12 days, ending on September 25.

The apps also had access to photos posted in Facebook Stories and in the Facebook Marketplace. The Information Commissioner's Office decided that Facebook failed to safeguard its users' information and also was not transparent in how the data was harvested by others. This bug affected as many as 14 million users over several days in May.

In May 2018, Facebook blocked around 200 apps for interfering with user's privacy and misusing their data.

The private information of Facebook users was alleged to be used to influence the USA 2016 general elections in favor of President Donald Trump's campaign.

Even if you haven't received a notification, you should log into any apps with which you've shared your Facebook photos.

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