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Facebook Admits “Bug” Exposed Private Posts Of 14 Million Users

Bug made private posts of 14mn users public, admits Facebook

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LinkedIn faced probe for Facebook ads targeting 18 mn non-members. Pixabay
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In yet another privacy goof-up, Facebook has admitted that 14 million users were affected by a bug in May that automatically suggested posting publicly when the users were writing posts meant only for friends.

The bug made sure that the posts could be viewed by anyone, including people not logged on to Facebook. It was not yet known users in which country were affected the most.

The bug, according to Erin Egan, Chief Privacy Officer at Facebook, occurred as the Facebook developers were building a new way to share featured items on users’ profile, like a photo.

“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 had been using before,” Egan said in a blog post late Thursday.

The revelation came after a New York Times report exposed how the social network allowed about 60 device makers, including Chinese smartphone players, to access personal information of users and their friends.

Facebook admitted sharing users’ data with Chinese company Huawei — facing the heat in the US over data privacy concerns — along with three other China-based smartphone makers Lenovo, OPPO and TCL.

The latest bug affected audience selector that lets users decide who gets to see the post.

Representational image.
Representational image. Pixabay

Starting Thursday, “we have started letting the 14 million people 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,” Egan said.

It took Facebook developers five days to fix the bug.

“If you posted publicly (during the period May 18 to 27), you’ll see a notification from Facebook when you log in that leads to a page with more information — including a review of posts during this period,” said Egan.

Every time you share something on Facebook, it shows you an audience selector so users can decide who gets to see the post.

Also Read: Facebook has Rolled Out a New Feature for Music Lovers

For example, if you choose to share a photo with friends only, your audience selector will automatically suggest you share to friends next time you start a post.

“We’ve heard loud and clear that we need to be more transparent about how we build our products and how those products use your data — including when things go wrong,” Egan said.

Facebook is already under intense scrutiny for misuse of millions of its users’ data after the Cambridge Analytica data leak scandal became public. (IANS)

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Facebook Must End Far Right’s Fundraising: British Leader

In recent years, Facebook has suffered sustained criticism over its handling of a series of crises, including interference during the US presidential election 2016 and the Brexit vote, allowing dissemination of hate speech and a data breach affecting millions of users

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A television photographer shoots the sign outside of Facebook headquarters in Menlo Park, Calif. VOA

Facebook CEO must put an end to far-right activists’ fundraising on the social networking platform, said British Labour leader Tom Watson, while criticising Mark Zuckerberg for having a “contempt for social responsibility”, the media reported.

According to a Guardian report, Tommy Robinson, a British far-right activist with more than 1 million followers on Facebook, has been receiving financial, political and moral support from a hidden global network of US thinktanks, right-wing Australians and Russian trolls.

Robinson, whose real name is Stephen Yaxley-Lennon, has raised hundreds of thousands of pounds through online donations, some via the social network.

Although Facebook has disabled Robinson’s access to the donate tool, meant to be reserved for charities alone, but supporters visiting Robinson’s Facebook profile continued to be directed towards his website where they could make donations through a form, the British daily reported on Saturday.

A Facebook spokesperson confirmed the action.

“We have removed the “Donate Now” button from this page. This function is only available for pages that list themselves as a “charitable organisation” and allows them to link to an external webpage of their choice. As this page is for a person we have now removed this,” the spokesperson was quoted as saying.

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Facebook is Robinson’s main social network after Twitter suspended him for claiming “Islam promotes killing people” in March, the report claimed.

In a blog post, Watson wrote: “Today I call on him to give a full explanation of how this dire breach of Facebook regulation occurred, pledge that it will never happen again, and, as an apology, make a match-fund donation to Hope Not Hate (a UK-based advocacy group).

Facebook should be ashamed that it had enabled Robinson’s efforts to “divide communities and stoke up hate”, said Matthew McGregor, Hope Not Hate’s campaigns director.

Also Read- Google Rolls Out Gender Specific Translation to Reduce Bias

“Facebook has continually failed to deal with the fact that their platform is vulnerable to exploitation by extremists, until after it is too late. Warm words after the damage is done don’t help reverse the damage caused,” he added.

In recent years, Facebook has suffered sustained criticism over its handling of a series of crises, including interference during the US presidential election 2016 and the Brexit vote, allowing dissemination of hate speech and a data breach affecting millions of users. (IANS)