Facebook bug set 14 million users’ sharing settings to public

Facebook bug set 14 million users’ sharing settings to public

In the latest installment of Facebook's security and privacy issues, the company is letting up to 14 million users know if their posts were accidentally changed from private to public due to a bug last month. 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. Your secrets are safe - unless someone saw them, of course.

Affected users will see an alert in their notifications about the error and will be able to review the posts that went public.

"We'd like to apologize for this mistake", Erin Egan, Facebook's chief privacy officer, said in a statement. 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.

Facebook said the privacy bug took place from May 18 to May 27 and didn't affect any posts published before that time period.

How did this happen?

According to TechCrunch, the bug was caused by a new tool Facebook is building called featured items, which "highlights photos and other content [on a user's profile]". If users did not notice the new default suggestion, they unwittingly sent their post to a broader audience than they had intended.

Facebook has been having a rough time with privacy and trust recently. But while the bug was active, from 18 May to 27 May, the setting was automatically changed to public. In the meantime, it has reverted the audience for any affected posts to whatever setting the user had selected previously.

Facebook said it estimates 14 million people did so - and so has started notifying users.

Facebook, which said it discovered the bug, has not yet shared details about who may have accessed the exposed data, or how that access may have occurred. And while the bug was only in effect for a few days, it's an example of how many different settings users have to be aware of on Facebook.

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