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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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Facebook faces lawsuit for hiding job ads from women. 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.

Facebook mobile app
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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The European Union Warns Facebook Over Consumer’s Data Usage

Facebook said it has already updated its terms of service in May to incorporate changes recommended at that point by EU authorities.

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Silhouettes of mobile users are seen next to a screen projection of Facebook logo in this picture illustration. VOA

The European Union’s consumer protection chief said Thursday she’s growing impatient with Facebook’s efforts to improve transparency with users about their data, warning it could face sanctions for not complying.

EU Consumer Commissioner Vera Jourova turned up the pressure on the social media giant, saying she wants the company to update its terms of service and expects to see its proposed changes by mid-October so they can take effect in December.

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European Justice Commissioner Vera Jourova attends an interview with Reuters at the EU Commission headquarters in Brussels, Belgium. VOA

“I will not hide that I am becoming rather impatient because we have been in dialogue with Facebook almost two years and I really want to see, not the progress — it’s not enough for me — but I want to see the results,” Jourova said.

The EU wants Facebook to give users more information about how their data is used and how it works with third party makers of apps, games and quizzes.

“If we do not see the progress the sanctions will have to come,” she said. She didn’t specify punishment, saying they would be applied by individual countries. “I was quite clear we cannot negotiate forever, we just want to see the result.”

The EU has been pressing the U.S. tech company to look at what changes it needs to make to better protect consumers and this year Facebook has had to adapt to new EU data protection rules. The concerns took on greater urgency after the Cambridge Analytica data privacy scandal erupted, in which data on 87 million Facebook users was allegedly improperly harvested.

Jourova said she hopes Facebook will take more responsibility for its nearly 380 million European users.

“We want Facebook to be absolutely clear to its users about how their service operates and makes money,” she said.

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An advertisement in The New York Times is displayed on Sunday, March 25, 2018, in New York. Facebook’s CEO apologized for the Cambridge Analytica scandal with ads in multiple U.S. and British newspapers. VOA

Facebook said it has already updated its terms of service in May to incorporate changes recommended at that point by EU authorities.

The company said it “will continue our close cooperation to understand any further concerns and make appropriate updates.”

Jourova also said U.S.-based property rental site Airbnb has agreed to clarify its pricing system in response to complaints that it could mislead consumers.

Airbnb has promised to be fully transparent by either including extra fees in the total price for a booking quoted on its website or notifying users that they might apply, she said.

 

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U.S.-based property rental site Airbnb has agreed to clarify its pricing system in response to complaints that it could mislead consumers. Flickr

The company is complying with EU demands spurred by concerns that consumers could be confused by its complicated pricing structure, which could add unexpected costs such as cleaning charges at the end of a holiday.

Airbnb is also changing its terms of service to make it clear that travelers can sue their host if they suffer personal harm or other damages. That’s in response to complaints that its booking system can leave tourists stranded if the rental is canceled when all other arrangements have been already made.

Also Read: EU Regulators Question Online Retailer Amazon’s Data Usage

Airbnb said “guests have always been aware of all fees, including service charges and taxes, before booking listings,” and will work with authorities to make it even clearer. (VOA)