08 June, 2018
Facebook says a software bug made some private posts public for as many as 14 million users over several days in May. The bug affected Facebook posts between May 18 and 27; although Facebook fixed the error on May 22, it took five days to reverse the problem for all affected posts. Your secrets are safe - unless someone saw them, of course.
In a statement provided to Engadget, Facebook chief privacy officer Erin Egan wrote: "We recently found a bug that automatically suggested posting publicly when some people were creating their Facebook posts". It will also show affected users a notification with an explanation and apology, and urge them to review any posts they made during the time period when the bug was active. People could have changed the individual audience setting on posts, but would have had to notice the setting was different from what they'd chosen. "We'd like to apologize for this mistake".
It occurred when Facebook was testing a new feature and meant that it accidentally changed a user's privacy settings to public from whatever it was previously, making potentially sensitive status updates viewable from anywhere in the world.
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Jonathan Mayer, a professor of computer science and public affairs at Princeton University, said on Twitter that this latest privacy gaffe "looks like a viable Federal Trade Commission/state attorney general deception case".
The mistake happened, that company said, when it was building a new way for people to share "featured items" on their profiles.
Affected Facebook users will get a notification on the app or website starting Thursday.
During the period, any post an affected user published on Facebook would have automatically been posted publicly. That way, users can reset a post that was inadvertently set to public back to being shared just with friends if they would like.