Facebook accidentally made 14 million users’ posts public in May, reports say

Facebook accidentally made 14 million users’ posts public in May, reports say

The social networking site is now alerting approximately 14 million users to a recent bug that caused the error, which altered their suggested privacy settings to public from whatever audience they had previously chosen.

When posting on Facebook, users have the ability to specify who can see their posts by using a drop down menu where they can select "Public" (anyone), "Friends", or "Friends and Connections". On Thursday, the company announced a new test feature had changed users' privacy settings without their consent.

It was found that the bug occurred between May 18 and 27, which automatically suggested a public audience when a post was being created.

Facebook changed every post by those users during the affected time period to private, including posts that people may have meant to share publicly.

Affected Facebook users will get a notification on the app or website starting Thursday. It is not clear, however, how many people shared something publicly that they didn't want to be made public or how many might have noticed the change in settings before posting. "We apologize for this mistake", the note reads, according to screenshots from TechCrunch.

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Facebook Chief Privacy Officer Erin Egan said in a statement that the issue is now resolved and users affected by the bug are being notified.

Facebook was back in the spotlight in the past few days after the New York Times reported that Facebook had data-sharing contracts with device makers like Apple and Samsung.

It could be. Jonathan Mayer, a professor of computer science and public affairs at Princeton University, wrote on Twitter that this gaffe "looks like a viable Federal Trade Commission (FTC)/state attorney general deception case".

More recently, Facebook is facing scrutiny from lawmakers for its deals with Chinese companies. Even if the bug was an accident on Facebook's part, Mayer said in an email that the FTC can bring enforcement action for privacy mistakes. "Since these featured items are public we inadvertently made the suggested audience for all new posts - not just these items - Public". If someone made all posts "friends only" in the past, it will set their next post to "friends only" as well.

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