Facebook has revealed that up to 14 million of its users had their privacy settings accidentally changed by a software bug – causing some posts that were intended to be private to be made public.
The company confirmed that some 14 million users were affected by the bug between May 18 and May 22.
The bug automatically updated the audience for some users’ posts to “public” without any warning. It is not clear, however, how many people shared something publicly that they didn’t want to be made public or how many might have noticed the change in settings before posting.
Facebook noticed the glitch and returned the auto settings to private on May 27 – potentially leaving a window of nine days where private posts were available for all to see.
Facebook Chief Privacy Officer Erin Egan said in a statement that the issue is now resolved and users affected by the bug are being notified.
“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 said it was testing out a new feature – one that would suggest people share featured profile items publicly, but it accidentally set the default for posts to “public” as well.