Facebook’s latest blunder made private posts public for 14M users

Well shucks

On Thursday, Facebook revealed that once again they messed with users' privacy while testing a new feature between May 18 and May 27.

The flaw only affected Facebook's system for 10 days in May, but Facebook says it still plans to notify users who were impacted by the bug. "We apologize for this mistake", the note reads, according to screenshots from TechCrunch.

Starting today, affected users will get a message from Facebook advising them to "Please Review Your Posts".

This week, The Washington Post reported that Facebook shared special user data with Huawei - a Chinese firm that lawmakers say poses a national security threat.

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The bug apparently happened because Facebook was building a new "featured items" option that highlights content on profiles. That default was changed to public for the 14 million users, but if affected users noticed, they could have manually switched the setting themselves.

Norman Sadeh, co-director of Carnegie Mellon University's Privacy Engineering Program, said that although Facebook survived temporary losses of trust from the public in the past, the recent scandals appeared to be taking their toll on the social media company. That means if an eagle-eyed user didn't catch the bug, they likely shared some status updates publicly on Facebook that they meant to share only with friends. 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. Facebook is also referring users to this privacy basics page. This drop down menu is called the "audience selector" and will retain the setting that you previously used for new posts going forward.

While many phone makers have said any data pulled through those channels only resided on phones, not on company servers, some critics have questioned how certain Facebook can be that those statements are true.

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.

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