In the least surprising news I’ll likely have to report to you this (or any) week, a bug in a Facebook feature has shared millions of people’s private posts with the entire world.
According to CNN, 14 million users had all of their new posts set to public by default, no matter what their privacy settings were, for four days last month.
Between May 18 and May 22, the company revealed on Thursday that the users could have been posting publicly thanks to a bug, which occurred as Facebook tested out a new feature.
If you were affected, Facebook sent you a message on Thursday.
“Facebook changed every post by those users during the affected time period to private, including posts that people may have meant to share publicly,” CNN reported, noting that the social media giant said “it took five days to make those changes.”
Facebook is now urging all users affected to check their posts and see if they were meant to be public. If so, they can be set back to public by the user.
“We recently found a bug that automatically suggested posting publicly when some people were creating their Facebook posts,” Erin Egan, Facebook’s chief privacy officer, said.
“We have fixed this issue and starting today we are letting everyone affected know and asking them to review any posts they made during that time.”
“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.”
The social media platform had also seen a pretty significant usage drop in 2017, which was said to be behind an algorithm change earlier this year.
And then there were Mark Zuckerberg’s appearances before Congress, which were pretty much flagellation sessions for the GOP (over Facebook’s political bias and privacy policies) and Democrats (over accepting American election ads from Russian firms and the Cambridge Analytica scandal).
In other words, if you’re either decidedly conservative or liberal, you probably view Facebook as a brand in the same way loyal diesel buyers view Volkswagen. That’s not a good position for any company to be in.
It’s rare, for instance, that I find myself on the same side as David Frum, senior editor at The Atlantic and noted RINO. However, Frum may have had the best reaction to the latest Facebook privacy debacle:
It's so weird that this never happens the other way around, settings accidentally changed so that Facebook users inadvertently get more privacy than they signed up for https://t.co/fTgzNNi6cX
— David Frum (@davidfrum) June 7, 2018
While I suppose a glitch that switched posts to private, as opposed to public by default, would hardly merit the kind of media coverage this is receiving, try pointing to one situation in which this has happened. I’m imagining that such a bug would have been fixed a lot sooner.
Facebook has massive problems with privacy, along with the fact that conservative users are concerned about political bias and younger users seem to be ditching the platform entirely. If that doesn’t get fixed, with an extreme quickness, it’s entirely possible we will see the social media giant going the way of MySpace and Friendster. That’s quite a few years away at this point, but does anyone doubt that Zuckerberg and company are on their way to self-immolation?
CNN said that “(a) Facebook spokesperson said the notification is the start of new proactive and transparent way for the company to handle issues going forward.” If this is proactive and transparent, the better part of a month after this bug began happening, I’d hate to see what they define as reactive and opaque.
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