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Facebook Bug Might Have Had Users Post Private Things Publicly

Photo: Joel Saget/AFP/Getty Images

Facebook is currently in the process of alerting millions of its users of a bug that occurred last month that might have made posts meant for a limited audience appear publicly. For ten days in May, Facebook’s status-update tool did not retain user-specified privacy settings, resorting to the default instead.

This particular setting is meant to be persistent — it retains whatever the most recent settings were until they are changed by the user. If I limit a post’s audience to just friends from high school, for instance, Facebook will make that the default audience setting on all of the posts I make from then on. The bug Facebook is telling users about caused the setting to flip to public without notifying the user, so if they rightfully assumed that their privacy settings hadn’t changed, they were wrong.

Facebook estimates that 14 million users are affected by the glitch, and is notifying them of it. “We apologize for this mistake,” the note reads, according to screenshots from TechCrunch. “The problem has been fixed, and we changed the audience of any posts you made to what you had been using before, just in case.” The company then recommends that users review whatever they’ve posted during this time.

“We’d like to apologize for this mistake,” Facebook privacy chief Erin Egan said in a statement. The company said the bug stemmed from a public display of “featured items” at the top of user profiles. In the meantime, you can take solace in the fact that this glitch only affected 0.007 percent of Facebook users — which is 14 million people. Is that a lot of people or just a little bit of people? Who’s to say, really?

Facebook Bug Made Posts Meant As Private Public Instead