Facebook warned that a bug in the software may have caused 14 million users to have unknowingly shared private information publicly.
California. 8th. June, 2018: What actually happened is that 14 millions users’ privacy options for posts were automatically set to “everyone”. It means that if a user (affected by the bug) had previously set the “friends of friends” or “friends” option, their posts have still been shared with the public in spite of their preferences and settings.
Erin Egan, Facebook’s head of privacy, said that Facebook would like to apologize for this mistake. Also, users concerned by the bug will be informed on their newsfeed.
Ms Egan said that Facebook “found a bug that automatically suggested posting publicly when some people were creating their Facebook posts”.
The issue is said to have been fixed and Facebook says that it is informing all the users affected and asking them to check on the posts they may have shared during the bug. Thankfully, the bug did not affect any of the posts made by the affected users before. Users are now able to select their audience as usual and Facebook expressed its embarrassment by apologizing for the mistake.
The problem was active between May18 and 22 , according to a spokesperson. However, it is not until May 27 that Facebook took action by changing the privacy settings of the concerned posts, and setting the same privacy settings as the ones generally used earlier by the users in question.
If a user did not pay attention to the changed settings, and innocently shared posts as they always did, they may have unknowingly shared one or more posts with the public. This can be problematic, especially if the user’s information was to be kept private and not shared with a wider audience.
Facebook itself admitted that about 14 million users have shared posts to the public although they usually had more restrictive privacy settings. Facebook also said it automatically switched the affected users’ settings to their default privacy settings.
Facebook has recently been the object of great debates and controversies. The policies in terms of data protection, users’ safety etc. are issues that have been highlighted more and more recently. In such circumstances, such a glitch, even though it is a “minor” one, is not the best thing that could have happened to the company. It is another episode of an embarrassing situation, shedding light on the fact that the firm is being unable to provide for a safe and secure use of its users’ data.
This week, Facebook has also been asked to answer questions about its data-sharing deals with handset making companies such as Huawei and ZTE.
The users affected by Facebook’s latest bug will be notified through their newsfeed in order to re-check the posts they shared during the bug. As Facebook is trying to make itself more transparent in the future, it may make it a habit to notify its users on their newsfeed whenever there has been a bug with their data, etc.