Facebook revealed that a software bug was live for 10 days during May and, as a result, may have affected up to 14 million users. The company explained that millions of users who believed they were sharing privately with their friends or small groups may have actually shared their information publicly; the bug apparently updated the audience selector to “public” without notifying users. Facebook announced it plans to contact the individuals that may have been impacted. “We’d like to apologize for this mistake,” said Facebook’s chief privacy officer Erin Egan in a statement yesterday.
It is not known how many of the 14 million users were affected or if any of them noticed the issue when it occurred. Facebook blamed a software bug for creating the glitch while the company was testing a new feature last month.
“We have fixed this issue,” added Egan, “and starting today we are letting everyone affected know and are asking them to review any posts they made during that time.”
Based on Facebook’s ongoing privacy and security issues resulting from “mismanagement of its platform,” notes Recode, this latest announcement is “both a public relations and operational disaster.”
“Facebook has lost all benefit of the doubt in recent months and has lost trust with the media and regulators. And also, it seems inevitable its users, since knowing who sees your posts is an important part of feeling safe on the huge social networking platform.”
Facebook has been forced to make a number of recent apologies for not adequately protecting user data. In March, it was revealed that Cambridge Analytica collected the data of more than 87 million users. More recently, it was learned that Facebook shared access to user data with phone makers such as Apple, BlackBerry, Huawei and Samsung.
“Members of Congress are now questioning Facebook and other tech companies about their relationship to Huawei,” reports The New York Times. “Trust in Facebook has fallen by 66 percent as a result of news stories in recent months, according to a survey by the Ponemon Institute, an independent research firm specializing in privacy and data protection.”
“People should probably refrain from sharing too much sensitive information with these platforms,” suggested Norman Sadeh, co-director of Carnegie Mellon University’s Privacy Engineering Program, in regards to today’s social media.