Tuesday November 13, 2018
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Facebook Admits Bug Unblocked People 800,000 Users’ List

The company said the issue has now been fixed and everyone has been blocked again

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British regulator fines Facebook over data protection breaches. Pixabay
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In yet another privacy goof-up, Facebook has admitted that over 800,000 users were affected by a bug on its platform and Messenger that unblocked some people these users had blocked.

The bug was active between May 29 and June 5 — and while someone who was unblocked could not see content shared with friends, they could have seen things posted to a wider audience, said Facebook.

“For example pictures shared with friends of friends. We know that the ability to block someone is important — and we’d like to apologise and explain what happened,” Erin Egan, Chief Privacy Officer at Facebook, wrote in a blog post on Tuesday.

When you block someone on Facebook, they cannot see things you post on your profile, start conversations with you on Messenger or add you as a friend.

Blocking also automatically unfriends them if you were previously friends.

“In the case of this bug, it did not reinstate any friend connections that had been severed,” Egan said.

Nearly 83 per cent of people affected by the bug had only one person they had blocked temporarily unblocked.

Also Read: Facebook Into Data-Sharing Partnership With 52 Companies

Someone who was unblocked might have been able to contact people on Messenger who had blocked them, Facebook noted.

The company said the issue has now been fixed and everyone has been blocked again.

“People who were affected will get a notification on Facebook encouraging them to check their blocked list,” the company said.

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Facebook mobile app. Pixabayfacebook 

Facebook has already been grappling with privacy issues like the Cambridge Analytica data scandal involving 87 million users and another bug that changed 14 million users’ privacy setting defaults to public.

“While 800,000 people is just a tiny fraction of the 2.2 billion Facebook user base, that is still a sizable number of affected users who may have been subject to concerning episodes,” The Verge reported. (IANS)

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Teenage Girls Being Urged To Befriend ‘Middle-Aged Men’ On Facebook: Report

In October, Facebook had removed 8.7 million user images of child nudity

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This photo shows the logo for Facebook on screens at the Nasdaq MarketSite, in New York's Times Square. VOA

Facebook is encouraging grooming by offering teenage girls middle-aged men as ‘friend suggestions’, the media reported.

Teenage girls, as young as 13-year-olds, who join the social network are given up to 300 suggestions for who they can add as friends, some of which include middle-aged men who are topless in their profile photos, The Telegraph reported late on Saturday.

Facebook has said that was not a typical experience for teenagers for signing up for the service and that it has safeguards built into its recommendation system.

Following the findings, UK-based charity the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC) has called for friend recommendations to be suspended for children on the social networking giant’s platform.

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A cellphone user looks at a Facebook page at a shop in Latha street, Yangon, Myanmar. VOA

‘Groomers are seeking to infiltrate children’s friendship groups on social networks, often with the intention to move children to live streaming or encrypted sites where it is easier for them to commit sexual abuse,” Andy Burrows, NSPCC Associate Head of Child Safety Online, was quoted as saying.

“Social media algorithms risk making it easier for groomers to find and contact children and ‘friend of friend’ or ‘new follower’ recommendations can add legitimacy to their requests, which is why we are calling for these features to be blocked for children.

“For too long social networks have failed to make their platforms safe for children, and that is why the Home Secretary must commit to strong and effective regulation to finally ensure that children’s safety is non-negotiable,” she said.

According to Facebook, the company has safeguards to protect children. However, the campaigners warn that the networking giant must do more to stop groomers who use the site to become friendly with children.

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This photo shows a Facebook app icon on a smartphone in New York. VOA

“Grooming is incredibly serious, and we have teams specifically focused on keeping children safe, informed by extensive research and outside experts,” said a spokesman for Facebook, the Daily Mail reported on Saturday.

“We use artificial intelligence to proactively identify cases of inappropriate interactions with minors and we refer potential abuse to law enforcement.

“We limit how children can be found in search, we remind them to only accept friend requests from people they know and we caution them before making public posts.”

Also Read: Twitter Giving Its Users More Freedom To Report Fake, Suspicious Accounts

In October, Facebook had removed 8.7 million user images of child nudity with the help of previously undisclosed machine learning software that automatically flagged such photos during the last quarter.

The company has said that it is also considering rolling out systems for spotting child nudity and grooming to Instagram. (IANS)