Facebook said Thursday that it would notify 14 million users that posts they meant to share privately may have been published publicly, the company's latest setback as it tries to rebuild user trust after the Cambridge Analytica scandal.
In a statement provided to Engadget, Facebook chief privacy officer Erin Egan wrote: "We recently found a bug that automatically suggested posting publicly when some people were creating their Facebook posts".
Facebook said this privacy setting bug affected users posting between May 18 and May 27. Facebook will soon start individually informing the people who were affected by the bug. She added that Facebook is notifying users who posted publicly during the time the bug was active to review their posts. People could have changed the individual audience setting on posts, but would have had to notice the setting was different from what they'd chosen. "We'd like to apologize for this mistake".
What did the bug do? If the user chooses public, anyone can view that post.
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Facebook posts typically default to the last "audience" a post was shared with, such as family members, friends, or friends except their boss. While the company says it stopped the error on May 22, it was not able to change all the posts back to their original privacy perimeters until later.
The company said the mistake happened as it worked to redesign how it displays parts of user profiles that are always public.
Facebook said it had reverted the audience settings to users' prior preference.
The news follows a recent furor over Facebook's sharing of user data with device makers, including China's Huawei. Anyone whose posts were mistakenly made public will see a notification on their Facebook account-both the mobile app and website-entitled "Please Review Your Posts".
A spokesperson told the BBC this method of communication might become more frequent as the network works on ways to be more transparent with users.