Facebook admits bug set 14 million users' sharing settings to public

Well shucks

Facebook announced today that a software glitch mistakenly made 14 million users' posts public over a period of 10 days in May, even if the users had intended those posts to be private. Facebook just admitted that the posts of as many as 14 million users who thought they were posting contents visible to only their friends, may have actually been shared publicly.

Erin Egan, Facebook's chief privacy officer, said the bug did not affect past posts.

Users who were affected by the bug will start receiving a notification on Facebook starting Thursday.

As Recode points out, the private/public setting on Facebook will be the same for new posts as it was on previous ones.

Facebook is now in the process of rolling out new privacy menus to all of its 2 billion users.

The social network is working to rehabilitate its relationship with users after the Cambridge Analytica controversy, which drew renewed attention to how much data the company collects. They'll see a message from Facebook urging users to "Please Review Your Posts" and a link to a list of what they shared on Facebook while the bug was active. That default was changed to public for the 14 million users, but if affected users noticed, they could have manually switched the setting themselves.

Facebook tells TechCrunch that it hears loud and clear that it must be more transparent about its product and privacy settings, especially when it messes up. And while the bug was only in effect for a few days, it's an example of how many different settings users have to be aware of on Facebook. That way, users can reset a post that was inadvertently set to public back to being shared just with friends if they would like. The news prompted swift response from lawmakers who asked Facebook for more information on those partnerships, and raised further questions about whether Facebook has violated a privacy agreement it had made with the government in 2011.

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