San Francisco: Facebook acknowledged Thursday a software glitch that changed the settings of some 14 million users, potentially making some posts public even if they were meant to be private. That's because the company had promised that the setting users set in their most recent privacy preferences would be maintained for future posts.
"We'd like to apologise for this mistake", said Erin Egan, Facebook's head of privacy.
The issue has now been fixed, and everyone's status composer has been changed back to default to the privacy setting they had before the bug.
During the month of May, social media users may have been posting the posts publicly and not even realizing it thanks to another Facebook screw-up.
After the bug was detected, Facebook engineers spent an additional 5 days resetting any new posts made by these users to the default setting that they had previously been using.
The mistake happened, that company said, when it was building a new way for people to share "featured items" on their profiles. 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".
"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", Egan said. The message from Facebook urged users to "Please Review Your Posts", and gave them a link to a list of what they shared on Facebook while the bug was active.
Over the past few days, Facebook has been under scrutiny for giving Chinese company Huawei access to users' data, even though the US government has held that company under suspicion in the past over its ties to the country's communist government.
Users can also manually change the privacy of the posts - anywhere from "public" to "only me" - when publishing to Facebook. If they don't check to make sure that they have the correct settings before hitting "post", they may be sharing sensitive information with users they didn't intend to.
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