A software bug made millions of private Facebook accounts publicly viewable last month, the social network announced on Thursday. In total, up to 14 million users around the world had their share settings on Facebook switched to “public.”The glitch was live for about 10 days in May. The bug affected as many as 14 million people, the company said. Facebook soon will start individually informing the people who were affected. “We’d like to apologize for this mistake,” Erin Egan, Facebook’s chief privacy officer, said in a statement. Facebook has fixed the privacy settings for posts during that time, and it will let users review any affected content to make sure the audience is what they intended, she said. This is the latest in a series of revelations about Facebook’s privacy lapses. The company also is facing criticism from Congress for data partnerships with Chinese companies. Facebook also is still dealing with the fallout from a March revelation that Cambridge Analytica, a political consulting firm, was able to obtain information about as many as 87 million Facebook users without those users’ consent.
The bug was active from May 18th to May 22nd, but it took Facebook until May 27th to switch people’s status composer privacy setting back to what it was before the issue. It happened because Facebook was building a “featured items” option on your profile that highlights photos and other content. These featured items are publicly visible, but Facebook inadvertently extended that setting to all new posts from those users. The issue has now been fixed, and everyone’s status composer has been changed back to default to the privacy setting they had before the bug. The notifications about the bug lead to a page of info about the issue, with a link to review affected posts.