Facebook alerts 14M to privacy bug that changed status composer to public

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

Facebook said Thursday that it would notify 14 million users that posts they meant to share privately may have been published publicly, the company's latest setback as it tries to rebuild user trust after the Cambridge Analytica scandal. Your secrets are safe - unless someone saw them, of course.

Posts are public by default for new accounts, but every Facebook user can limit who sees each post by using what the company calls an "audience selector".

Erin Egan, Facebook's chief privacy officer, said this did not affect past posts.

"We'd like to apologize for this mistake", Egan said.

How did this happen?

If the user did not notice the setting had changed, they may have posted something publicly that was not intended for that wider audience.

Facebook said that it was today beginning to notify affected users.

While relatively minor compared to recent issues facing the company, the glitch is another embarrassing slip-up for a firm already under heavy fire over privacy concerns.

The news marked the latest in a series of privacy embarrassments for the world's biggest social network, which has faced a firestorm over the hijacking of personal data on tens of millions of users and more recently for disclosures on data-sharing deals with smartphone makers.

The bug became active on May 18th and Facebook started releasing a fix on the 22nd, though they didn't revert everyone's status settings until the 27th. However, it appears that the company didn't change the settings back to what the users had set until May 27.

Facebook tells TechCrunch that it hears loud and clear that it must be more transparent about its product and privacy settings, especially when it messes up. The news prompted swift response from lawmakers who asked Facebook for more information on those partnerships, and raised further questions about whether Facebook has violated a privacy agreement it had made with the government in 2011.

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