Facebook Made Some Private Posts Public for as Many as 14M


Facebook's troubles continue as the company has just announced that the platform experienced a "bug" that set the audience for tens of millions of people's posts to "public" even if they had set their privacy settings to share them with a smaller audience.

The issue arose from a bug affecting Facebook's "audience selector" tool, which allows users to decide whether to publish a post only to their friends or to a broader audience.

Facebook said it will reach out to the users who are thought to have been affected by the bug.

Erin Egan, Facebook's chief privacy officer, said the bug did not affect past posts. "We apologize for this mistake", the note reads, according to screenshots from TechCrunch. Facebook is now in the process of rolling out new privacy menus to all of its 2 billion users.

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". The affected users will then be shown which posts were marked public during the glitch. That means if an eagle-eyed user didn't catch the bug, they likely shared some status updates publicly on Facebook that they meant to share only with friends. It happened because Facebook was building a "featured items" option on your profile that highlights photos and other content.

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Affected Facebook users will get a notification on the app or website starting Thursday.

A Facebook representative said in the statement that the company had heard "loud and clear" that it needed to be more transparent about "when things go wrong" ― and this notification was part of that effort.

The news follows recent furore over Facebook's sharing of user data with device makers, including China's Huawei.

Users can also manually change the privacy of the posts - anywhere from "public" to "only me" - when publishing to Facebook. That default was changed to public for the 14 million users, but if affected users noticed, they could have manually switched the setting themselves.