Facebook Admits "Bug" Had Private Posts Of 14 Million Users Made Public

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

For a few days last month, a software bug caused 14 million Facebook users' default setting for sharing content to be "public", meaning that some of their posts meant to be kept private were accessible to anyone on the internet, the company said Thursday.

It's the latest in a series of high-profile embarrassments for Facebook as the company attempts to regain the trust of its users in the wake of the Cambridge Analytica scandal, in which the personal information of up to 87 million users was found to have been improperly obtained by a political-research firm and used for campaign ad targeting.

According to Facebook, only four days worth of posts were accidentally shared - between May 18 and May 22, and the company has automatically changed them back to private.

Facebook said this privacy setting bug affected users posting between May 18 and May 27. 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.

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

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

Facebook has another privacy screw-up on its hands. That's because the company had promised that the setting users set in their most recent privacy preferences would be maintained for future posts. In this case, this did not happen for several days. In the meantime, it has reverted the audience for any affected posts to whatever setting the user had selected previously. 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. Facebook usually lets users choose how they want their content to be shared, with basic options being: "Public, Only Friends, Friends Except, Specific Friends or Only me". These items are visible to the public, however, the company extended that setting to all the new posts, TechCrunch reports.

When people post to Facebook, the service suggests and audience for their posts, based on past privacy settings.

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