Facebook bug set 14 million users’ sharing settings to public


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. The company is also still recovering from the Cambridge Analytica scandal, in which a Trump-affiliated data-mining firm got access to the personal data of as many as 87 million Facebook users.

It said the bug automatically suggested that users make new posts public, even if they had previously restricted posts to "friends only" or another private setting. 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.

Erin Egan, Facebook's chief privacy officer, was quick to apologize for the mistake, but the question remains: can we still trust Facebook?

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According to TechCrunch, the bug was caused by a new tool Facebook is building called featured items, which "highlights photos and other content [on a user's profile]". In the meantime, Facebook has set any public posts from that period to users' previous default settings, meaning that even users who meant to make posts public will need to reset them to be globally accessible. If users did not notice the new default suggestion, they unwittingly sent their post to a broader audience than they had intended.

Considering that Facebook has almost 2.2 billion users worldwide, the number of affected users is small. These notifications state that Facebook "recently discovered a technical error between May 18 and 27 that automatically suggested a public audience when you were creating posts".

The tweet below shows the notification users will be receiving. However, it appears that the company didn't change the settings back to what the users had set until May 27. During that time, the privacy settings on some users' posts were changed to public without any warning.