Software Bug May Have Affected 14M Facebook Users

Software Bug May Have Affected 14M Facebook Users

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.

It turns out that when the company discovered the issue, its employees went back and changed posts shared by those 14 million users during that time back to the setting they had previously selected.

Facebook is now in the process of alerting millions of its users of a bug that occurred last month that might have made posts meant for a limited audience appear publicly.

It was found that the bug occurred between May 18 and 27, which automatically suggested a public audience when a post was being created.

Starting today, affected users will begin seeing messages from Facebook that encourage them to "Please Review Your Posts".

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Just this week The New York Times reported the company had granted dozens of hardware manufacturers access to a trove of personal data, potentially violating a 2011 consent decree with the Federal Trade Commission, in which Facebook agreed it would only share users' data with their express permission. While the company says it stopped the error on May 22, it was not able to change all the posts back to their original privacy parameters until later. "Since these featured items are public we inadvertently made the suggested audience for all new posts - not just these items - Public". They'll receive a notification on the app or the website and a link to a list of anything they shared during the "oopsies" window.

More recently, Facebook is facing scrutiny from lawmakers for its deals with Chinese companies. In this case, this did not happen for several days.

The cockup is thought to have stemmed from new features Facebook was testing to allow users to share "featured" items on their profile that are set to "public" viewability. 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. For ten days in May, Facebook's status-update tool did not retain user-specified privacy settings, resorting to the default instead.

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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