Privacy: “Facebook Bug Set 14 Million Users’ Sharing Settings to Public”
Reports from CNN, TechCrunch, and Recode below.
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 changed every post by those users during the affected time period to private, including posts that people may have meant to share publicly. The company told CNN it took five days to make those changes.
The bug was active from May 18th to May 27th, with Facebook able start rolling out a fix on May 22nd. It happened because Facebook was building a ‘featured items’ option on your profile that highlights photos and other content. These featured items are publicly visible, but Facebook inadvertently extended that setting to all new posts from those users.
The issue has now been fixed, and everyone’s status composer has been changed back to default to the privacy setting they had before the bug. The notifications about the bug leads to a page of info about the issue, with a link to review affected posts.
Facebook was unclear about how many of the 14 million people may have posted to friends without realizing they were sharing that information to a much broader public audience. The company said it will begin to alert people who were impacted immediately.
It is also unclear how widespread the problem is. It is not known, for example, how many of those 14 million people shared something publicly they didn’t want public, or how many may have noticed the settings change before publishing in the first place.
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About Gary Price
Gary Price (firstname.lastname@example.org) is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. He earned his MLIS degree from Wayne State University in Detroit. Price has won several awards including the SLA Innovations in Technology Award and Alumnus of the Year from the Wayne St. University Library and Information Science Program. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at Ask.com.