If you’re keeping a list of Facebook apologies for 2018, you can now add “apologizes for accidentally setting 14 million users privacy status to public without their knowledge” to your list.
From May 18 to May 22, Facebook accidentally changed the privacy setting for status updates for 14 million users to public from whatever previous option they had set, according to TechCrunch. The incident, which Facebook defined as a “bug,” was the result of the company’s work on a ‘featured items’ option that is designed to highlight photos and other content that are publicly visible.
TechCrunch says Facebook mistakenly extended the public setting connected to the ‘featured items’ option to all new posts from those users.
Facebook chief privacy officer, Erin Egan, sent the following statement to TechCrunch:
We recently found a bug that automatically suggested posting publicly when some people were creating their Facebook posts. 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. We’d like to apologize for this mistake.
Facebook is notifying the affected users, and encouraging them to review their audience settings for recent posts. The notification leads to a dedicated page explaining that a technical error caused user privacy settings to be temporarily changed.
TechCrunch reports that the issue has been fixed, and that everyone’s privacy settings for status updates has been defaulted to the privacy setting they had turned on before the bug. Even though the bug was active between May 18 and May 22, TechCrunch says Facebook did not correct the problem until May 27 — meaning that, for the affected users, status updates that they thought were set to private were shared publicly for anywhere from five to nine days past their post date.