Facebook Bug Causes 14 Million Users Posts to be Shared Publicly

Facebook flaw changed millions of users’ posts from private to public

Facebook has another privacy screw-up on its hands.

For a period of four days in May, about 14 million Facebook users around the world had their default sharing setting for all new posts set to public, the company revealed Thursday. Facebook is notifying users who were affected and posted publicly during the time the bug was active, advising them to review their posts. 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", Erin Egan, Facebook's chief privacy officer, said in today's statement.

After the bug was detected, Facebook engineers spent 5 days resetting posts created by affected users to private, even if that was the original intent.

Facebook changed every post by those users during the affected time period to private, including posts that people may have meant to share publicly.


It is still unclear how numerous 14 million profiles that were affected may have posted content privately without realizing they were sharing publicly. The notifications about the bug leads to a page of info about the issue, with a link to review affected posts.

Facebook also said Thursday it would end its data partnership with Huawei by the end of this week following a backlash over the Chinese phone maker's access to Facebook user data. And it plans to show more of these types of alerts to be forthcoming about any other privacy issues it discovers in the future. It moved too fast, and it broke something.

The bug caps off a string of recent controversies for Facebook, most notably the Cambridge Analytica scandal, which resulted in 87 million users' data being harvested without their knowledge and shared with the Trump-affiliated research firm.

Facebook said that it was today beginning to notify affected users. However, it appears that the company didn't change the settings back to what the users had set until May 27.

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