Facebook accidentally made 14 million users’ posts public in May, reports say

Facebook has another apology for you

Facebook posts typically default to the last "audience" a post was shared with, such as family members, friends, or friends except their boss. As a result, from May 18 to May 27, as many as 14 million users who intended posts to be available only to select individuals were, in fact, accessible to anyone on the Internet.

"We'd like to apologise for this mistake", said Erin Egan, Facebook's head of privacy. Facebook is also referring users to this privacy basics page. "Since these featured items are public, the suggested audience for all new posts - not just these items - was set to 'public.' The problem has been fixed, and for anyone affected, we changed the audience back to what they'd been using before". The affected users will then be shown which posts were marked public during the glitch.

According to TechCrunch, the bug came into being after Facebook developed a "featured items" option meant to highlight photos and other content, which were visible to the public. People could have changed the individual audience setting on posts, but would have had to notice the setting was different from what they'd chosen.

The mixup was the result of a bug that automatically suggested posts be set to public, meaning the posts could be viewed by anyone, including people not logged on to Facebook.

The bug became active on May 18th and Facebook started releasing a fix on the 22nd, though they didn't revert everyone's status settings until the 27th.

He apologized for Facebook's handling of the issue and promised that the company would be more transparent and "do better" when it comes to protecting user data and security.

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

Facebook was back in the spotlight in the past few days after the New York Times reported that Facebook had data-sharing contracts with device makers like Apple and Samsung.

After it became public that tens of millions of users had been affected by the Cambridge Analytica scandal, Facebook took great lengths to beef up users' privacy controls.

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