Facebook has another privacy screw-up on its hands. A bug in May accidentally changed the suggested privacy setting for status updates to public from whatever users had set it to last, potentially causing them to post sensitive friends-only content to the whole world. Facebook is now notifying 14 million people around the world who were potentially impacted by the bug to review their status updates and lock them down tighter if need be.
Difficult time for Facebook continues
Facebook acknowledged Thursday a software glitch that changed the settings of some 14 million users, potentially making some posts public even if they were intended to be private.
The news marked the latest in a series of privacy embarrassments for the world’s biggest social network, which has faced a firestorm over the hijacking of personal data on tens of millions of users and more recently for disclosures on data-sharing deals with smartphone makers.
Erin Egan, Facebook’s chief privacy officer, said in a statement that the company recently “found a bug that automatically suggested posting publicly when some people were creating their Facebook posts.“
Facebook said this affected users posting between May 18 and May 27 as it was implementing a new way to share some items such as photos.That left the default or suggested method of sharing as public instead of only for specific users or friends.
Facebook said it corrected the problem on May 22 but was unable to change all the posts, so is now notifying affected users.
“Starting today we are letting everyone affected know and asking them to review any posts they made during that time,” Egan said.
“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. We’d like to apologize for this mistake.“
With all the other issues swirling after the Cambridge Analytica scandal, this bug shows that Facebook’s privacy issues span both poorly thought-out policies and technical oversights. It moved too fast, and it broke something.