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If I limit a post's audience to just friends from high school, for instance, Facebook will make that the default audience setting on all of the posts I make from then on. As a result, many of those users may have unknowingly published posts as public that they intended only for certain friends.

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 meant to be private to be made public.

Ms Egan says the issue did not affect past posts and has apologised for the mistake.

Where did the bug come from?

"Since these featured items are public we inadvertently made the suggested audience for all new posts - not just these items - Public".

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.

Why are we hearing about it now?

That default was changed to public for the 14 million users, but if affected users noticed, they could have manually switched the setting themselves. "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". It also reportedly shared data with Chinese smartphone companies like Huawei, whose smartphones the heads of the Central Intelligence Agency, Federal Bureau of Investigation, National Security Agency and the director of national intelligence warned US citizens not to use in February.

It could be. Jonathan Mayer, a professor of computer science and public affairs at Princeton University, wrote on Twitter that this gaffe "looks like a viable Federal Trade Commission (FTC)/state attorney general deception case". They'll receive a notification on the app or the website and a link to a list of anything they shared during the "oopsies" window.

In its most recent trouble, the company revealed it had been sharing data with partners in China, which happens to be the last country most privacy-conscious users would want to share data with. Even if the bug was an accident on Facebook's part, Mayer said in an email that the FTC can bring enforcement action for privacy mistakes.


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