A Facebook experiment led to millions of user’s private post to be marked out as public, thereby compromising with the privacy of the affected users.
Facebook is in the news again and for all the wrong reasons too. For a new bug has led to some 14 million user’s post public in spite of those having been marked out as private. Worse still, none of the affected users had an inkling of what was going on, until now of course.
Facebook acknowledged the issue and said it has been caused by a bug that got inadvertently introduced as a result of some tests it was carrying out. None of the users were intimated of any tests being conducted which again lasted for five days, from May 18 till May 22.
As a result of the above-mentioned bug, the default post status of some got fixed at ‘public’. That is against the usual practice where the message status is usually the one that the user has chosen with their last post. So unless users have explicitly changed their post status to private from public, users are likely to have made a public post even if they intended to do otherwise.
Fortunately, the lapse got detected before it could snowball into a major controversy and the company got into the damage control act right away. However, it took another five days for it to set everything right during which time it again had set every post as private. That again was irrespective of whether the user’s original intent was to indeed make the post as private.
The chief security officer at Facebook, Erin Egan said they have already done what is needed to set things right and have started with the process of intimating affected users. He said there will be an official intimation from Facebook requesting all users to review the status of their post made during the specified time.
The social media giant is already being investigated for having shared user’s data with data research firms without explicit permission of its users. That is not all as Facebook also stands accused of sharing user’s data with tech companies. To top those off, here is another instance of it faltering on its commitment to securing user’s data at all costs.
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Interestingly, Facebook is playing down the entire episode and is claiming it to be part of their focus on being transparent and proactive.