Facebook is facing more trouble after it admitted a shock new bug may have made private messages available to everyone.
The issue, which was spotted last month, meant some messages were automatically set to go public.
Facebook’s settings usually include a strict pattern which means if users always post privately the default for a new message will follow that protocol.
However, for fives days in May, the bug set every post to public even if the user had, in previous posts, chosen to keep their messages private.
Facebook says the issue was live between 18 and 22 May 2018.
It’s thought the bug has hit 14 million users with Facebook saying it will notify people if it thinks a message has posted publicly by mistake.
“We’d like to apologise for this mistake,” said Erin Egan, Facebook’s head of privacy.
“We recently found a bug that automatically suggested posting publicly when some people were creating their Facebook posts,” Ms Egan said.
“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 apologise for this mistake.”
It’s been a tough start to the year for the social network with the Cambridge Analytica scandal forcing the company to face politicians about the way it handles data.
Cambridge Analytica used personal data taken without authorisation from Facebook users in 2014.
This information was then allegedly used to profile individual US voters and target them with political advertisements.
Hundreds of thousands of users were paid to take a personality test called ‘This Is Your Digital Life’ and agreed to academic use of the data.
But the app also allegedly collected their Facebook friends’ data, creating an unprecedented cache of private information.
UK Digital and Culture Secretary Matt Hancock previously told the Commons that the allegations were “very worrying”.
Facebook has begun alerting its 2.2 billion users about a new tool which lets them check if their data was shared with Cambridge Analytica.
Facebook users have started seeing a notification in their newsfeed called ‘Protecting Your Information’.
It contains a link that lets Facebook users see which apps they use and what information has been shared with the programmes.
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