Recently, Facebook opened up about a bug which they discovered. The bug caused the user posts to be made public rather than the preference they set. The users who made their privacy only to friends or specific people was changed automatically to the public when they made a new post. This caused the users to post sensitive contents visible to everyone on Facebook rather than specific people. The bug affected nearly 14 million of Facebook users with their privacy settings.
Erin Egan, Facebook’s Head Of Privacy said that “We would like to apologize for our mistakes in privacy settings. A bug has been discovered causing the posts’ privacy to change automatically. Even when people opt for specific preference, it was made public. For clarification, the bug did not modify any existing posts. The bug affected the posts’ made during May 18 to May 22. Although Facebook found the issue and resolved it by May 27 it seems a little distracting for the users. The user can now post according to their preference again”.
Whichever posts’ made between May 18 to May 22 comes under the affected list. None of the updates previously posted were modified according to Facebook. The user was under the assumption that the posts’ were private according to his preference. But, the updates were posted to the general public. It took Facebook 5 days to correct the bug and restore the preference settings back to what it was before the bug.
What Did The Bug Actually Do?
For those of you not familiar with posting on Facebook, there is an option to restrict the visibility of the updates we post. If it is made public, anyone can see the posts. But, the user has the freedom to keep it private or even visible only to specific people or group around them. Whenever a preference is set, Facebook remembers it for the next updates too. So the users who set their preference did not bother setting it again every time. But, the bug potentially changed the settings to public for every user. So, the posts’ intended for specific people was made public unintentionally. This problem was caused because Facebook was testing a new feature called “featured items” on user profiles. Some of the photos and videos are highlighted and visible to the general public but Facebook mistakenly changed the settings for new posts’ too.
How To Identify If You Were Affected?
One of the simplest methods to know if you were affected by this bug is to check all your status updates between May 18 to May 27. If any posts’ was intended to be specific according to your preference but was made public you can simply delete it.
According to Facebook, around 14 million users were affected by the bug. Further, Facebook is sending out notifications to every affected user. The affected posts are mentioned with a message to check the settings of the update.
After the Cambridge Analytica scandal, discovering more issues is only going to stop their growth and reduce the trust among the people. The bug shows the mishap in Facebook Privacy policies and that they need to step up. If they want to gain the trust of people back, they have to get rid of these bugs sooner.