Published: Fri, June 08, 2018
Tech | By Constance Martin

Facebook bug set 14 million users' sharing settings to public

Facebook bug set 14 million users' sharing settings to public

San Francisco: Facebook acknowledged Thursday 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. The tool usually remains on the setting that was used most recently so that a user who only wants to share posts with friends does not have to keep selecting that option. 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 perimeters until later. "We'd like to apologize for this mistake", Erin Egan, chief privacy officer of Facebook, told Fox News.

Facebook's 2011 consent decree with the FTC calls for the company to get "express consent" from users before sharing their information beyond what they established in their privacy settings.

Facebook hasn't released specifics on the amount of users and posts involved other than it being up to 14 million. "We expect that this kind of on-platform notification is something which people might see more of over the coming months as we try and do more (and better) to detect and fix issues before they affect people's experience".

Normally, a new post will default to whichever setting was selected for the previous one, but in this case all new messages automatically went to public.

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The company said Thursday that over several days last month ― from May 18 to May 27 ― a bug had caused affected users' new posts to automatically be set to "public", overriding their usual privacy settings, which may have restricted who could view their posts and photos. 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.

The bug affected as many as 14 million people, the company said.

This week, it has been answering questions about the nature of data-sharing deals with handset makers including Chinese manufacturers Huawei and ZTE.

It's the latest in a series of revelations about Facebook's privacy lapses.

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