Facebook privacy bug made posts of 14 million users public

Facebook users' posts were set to public setting due to a bug

Facebook bug exposes posts of 14 million usersFacebook mess up: a software bug caused users to post messages in public setting without them knowing

Facebook is facing yet another privacy scandal. This time it is due to the software bug[1] that has affected as many as 14 million people by changing an important setting to public sharing automatically. That means that your announcements and posts which you intentionally directed to your friends and family were exposed to the entire social network population.

The glitch appeared on 18th of May, when Facebook was testing a new feature. It was first spotted by the company on 22nd of May and fully eradicated on 27th. To inform its users about the current situation, it started rolling out messages to the affected users on Thursday. The social network urged users to review their posts by using a link to all their messages posted during the time the bug was active.

The bug appeared while testing “featured items” setting

When you post a message, picture or video on Facebook, the system uses your default privacy settings, e. g., if you shared a video that was only meant to be seen by your friends, Facebook assumes that your next post should be posted using same preferences. Unfortunately, the software bug caused this setting always to use public preferences, disclosing a colossal amount of messages to everybody.

The glitch occurred due to the social media giant testing a new “featured items” element that allows users to highlight favorite photos or other content. Although Facebook managed to catch be bug quickly and apologized for the incident, the data exposed might be vital, such as telephone numbers, or addresses.

We advise all affected users to review their messages, as well as check who can view their posts. To do that, go to Settings > Privacy > Your Activity > Who can see your future posts?

Erin Egan, Chief Privacy Officer of Facebook, commented with the following:[2]

We recently found a bug that automatically suggested posting publicly when some people were creating their Facebook posts. We have fixed this issue and starting today we are letting everyone affected know and asking them to review any posts they made during that time. 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.

The biggest social network is under the microscope because of recent events concerning users' privacy

It is not the first time Facebook fell under the radar of security experts, as well as received criticism from users themselves. The company's biggest scandal to date – Cambridge Analytica[3] managed to harvest personal data of 87 million users and was linked to major world events, such as Trump's election or Brexit.

In early June, a new wave of criticism hit Facebook. This time, the firm was accused of sharing users' personal information with multiple hardware manufacturers.[4]

Facebook is a leading social media platform with more than 2 billion[5] users worldwide. Due to the lack of regulations in the USA, companies like Facebook are not controlled enough when it comes to private data. Thus, leaving firms to self-regulate. If the company cannot respect users' privacy, they may be less willing to participate in the giant money-making machine.

About the author
Ugnius Kiguolis
Ugnius Kiguolis - The mastermind

Ugnius Kiguolis is a professional malware analyst who is also the founder and the owner of 2-Spyware. At the moment, he takes over as Editor-in-chief.

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