Facebook is at the heart of another privacy scandal, one that affects more than 10 million of its users. Wired reports that a bug in the framework of one of the world’s most popular social media sites caused 14 million users’ private posts to go public. According to Wired, the malfunction took place when Facebook was testing a new feature on May 18. A rep from the platform told CNN that they started repairing the glitch on May 22 and that all of the public posts were reset to private on May 27.
For each new post, Facebook uses your previous privacy settings unless you change them. So if all your previous posts were private they will continue to be that way until you adjust it. It also allows you to pick who you want to see your post. But the people affected by Facebook’s most recent privacy error had their private setting changed to public without their knowledge. So, friends who they didn’t want to see their posts would have had the ability to see them until the bug was fixed.
The good news here is that, during the glitch, affected users had the ability to manually change the settings on each post. But how often does the average Facebook user check their privacy settings, especially if they’re accustomed to their posts being private?
Facebook has a damage control procedure in place. As Wired notes, affected users will be notified by Thursday and each will be encouraged to review their posts. Facebook will present them with a list of posts that they made during the malfunction to make this process easier.
The bug occurred while Facebook was testing a feature called “Featured Items,” which allows users to spotlight certain posts on their page. “Featured Items” are only meant to affect public posts, but Facebook accidentally applied it to all user posts, Techcrunch reports.
Facebook has been in hot water about their policies as they relate to privacy and the protection of user data. In May, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg appeared before the European Parliament to answer questions related to the Cambridge Analytica scandal and other issues. As The Verge notes, Cambridge Analytica is an analytics and data-mining firm that has been accused of using Facebook as a tool to access user data and influence the 2016 U.S. presidential election. According to The Verge, the strategies that Analytica reportedly used are violations of Facebooks Terms of Service, but the company denies that they did anything wrong.