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A ‘bug’ saw Facebook change 14 million users’ privacy settings

Facebook test out new features all the time, and as such, the company has come to expect unexpected consequences from time to time.

But the prevailing attitude is that it’s better to be at the forefront of technology, and have to go back to correct some small errors, rather than be playing catch-up.

It’s not the worst position to take, especially when you’re a global brand famous for innovation.

But sometimes those unexpected consequences are that you seriously screw over your users.

Like that time Facebook changed millions of people’s default sharing settings to ‘public’.

According to CNN Money, between May 18 to 22, around 14 million Facebook users had their privacy settings changed as a result of a “bug”.

To be fair, when the company discovered the issue, they changed all posts made during that time by affected users back to private, but it was a process that took five days.

“We recently found a bug that automatically suggested posting publicly when some people were creating their Facebook posts,” Erin Egan, Facebook’s chief privacy officer, told CNN Money.

“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. 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.”

As to whether you were affected, Facebook are notifying those 14 million users by sending them a message saying “Please Review Your Posts”, then linking to what they shared during the time their settings were toggled to ‘public’.

It’s all said to be part of Facebook’s increased efforts to improve transparency – the company having copped something of a flogging over the issue of late – because there’s a decent chance their platform is being manipulated to influence the outcome of popularity contests… and, y’know, presidential elections.

Starting today, we’re officially creating a new standard of transparency for online political ads. Increased…

Posted by Mark Zuckerberg on Thursday, 24 May 2018

About the author

Joe was Junior Vice-President at Compu-Global-Hyper-Mega-Net until it was bought out by Bill Gates. He now subedits for Conversant Media and considers it a step up.

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