Facebook has confirmed that a flaw in its service was responsible for changing millions of users posts from private to public. Mark Zuckerberg’s company is in the process of informing the owners of up to 14 million accounts about the latest incident, which, once again, puts the security & privacy spotlight well and truly back onto the social network.
According to initial reports, the bug within Facebook’s software was live for approximately ten days and meant that millions of posts which had been set to private were changed and shared into the public domain.
Erin Egan, Chief of Privacy within Facebook, has confirmed that the bug did exist but has since been rectified, also confirming that it wasn’t actually as bad as the initial reports suggested:
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.
Initially, it was being said that already posted content, which was set to private, was inadvertently changed to public without the users’ consent. Egan has confirmed that this isn’t actually the case and that the issue manifested itself by suggesting that a new post should be shared as public rather than being private by default as per the user’s settings.
For those Facebook owners who are used to the privacy settings being exactly the same as the previous post, this would have come as a shock to learn that posts would have been shared publicly without them feeling the need to actually check the privacy settings on each new post.
The issue, which was affecting accounts from May 18 until May 27, is now resolved, meaning that Facebook account holders can now expect the platform to behave as previously expected. Facebook will get credit for finding the issues, resolving it, and issuing an official statement on the matter. However, an issue like this, which directly involves privacy and user’s data being shared publicly, couldn’t have really come at a worse time for a company which is still suffering the fallout of previous misdemeanors.