Mark Zuckerberg and Facebook just can’t seem to get out of the doghouse lately. He seems to have been on a permanent apology tour after the Cambridge Analytica scandal. The latest gaffe is the discovery that fourteen million users had their private posts made public against their wishes and without their knowledge.
The Facebook Gaffe
Facebook’s developers were trying to test a feature on their users’ profiles and introduced a bug. This ended up exposing the private posts, making them public. The social network said it happened while they were testing a new “featured items” option that would allow users to highlight photos and other content on their profiles.
Unless you have changed the settings, Facebook posts are public by default, but you have the option to change the settings so that your posts are private, so that only your friends can see them, or so that certain people cannot see them.
The Facebook Fix
The company didn’t notice the problem for four days starting on May 18. The company’s fix did the opposite and changed all the affected posts to private, regardless of whether the posts were originally public or private. Another update was applied five days later, one that Facebook claims completely fixes the gaffe.
Starting on June 7 users who were affected will start seeing messages from Facebook that suggest, “Please Review Your Posts.” This includes a helpful link to what may have been incidentally made public prior to the bug fix.
“We recently found a bug that automatically suggested posting publicly when some people were creating their Facebook posts,” said Facebook’s chief privacy officer, Erin Egan.
“We have fixed this issue, and starting today we are letting everyone affected know and asking them to review any posts they made during that time. To be clear, this bug did not impact anything people had posted before – and they could still choose their audience just as they always have.”
Facebook’s Mea Culpa
Facebook told TechCrunch that it understands that it needs to be more transparent, especially when something happens to privacy settings. They plan to be more forthcoming in the future and to initiate more of these privacy alerts like the one issued on June 7.
It’s understood all the way around that if Facebook wants people to keep sharing every minute part of their daily lives, they need to have trust in the privacy features. Because face it, if you’re worried your personal information, photos, location, etc. will go public, you’re not going to post as much.
And to be more blunt, that’s why many people don’t even go on Facebook. They have no desire to share with the world and know that at some point, despite the best of intentions, that is always a possibility.
Which camp do you fall in? Are you a user who trusts Facebook to keep your information private? Or are you in the camp who is not a user and who has no plans to be in the future either, specifically because of errors like this?
We want to know what you think! Let us know your comments, questions, and concerns regarding Facebook’s private posts made public.