Facebook made some private posts public for as many as 14M

Facebook made some private posts public for as many as 14M

Facebook disclosed a new privacy blunder on Thursday in a statement that said the site accidentally made the posts of 14 million users public even when they designated the posts to be shared with only a limited number of contacts.

Facebook remembers what setting you last chose and automatically selects it the next time you make a post. That's because the company had promised that the setting users set in their most recent privacy preferences would be maintained for future posts. Every Facebook user, though, has the ability to change these settings to post privately, to just friends, or to exclude certain people from seeing it.

"We'd like to apologise for this mistake", said Erin Egan, Facebook's head of privacy. On Thursday, the company announced a new test feature had changed users' privacy settings without their consent.

Facebook estimates that 14 million users are affected by the glitch, and is notifying them of it. 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. 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. 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.

The mixup was the result of a bug that automatically suggested posts be set to public, meaning the posts could be viewed by anyone, including people not logged on to Facebook.

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The specific tool being tested was a "featured items" option on a user's profile that highlights photos and other content.

A Facebook spokesperson said the notification is the start of new proactive and transparent way for the company to handle issues going forward.

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

Facebook's latest privacy bug is another result of the platform moving a little too fast...

...

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