Facebook has admitted that it created a bug which meant that for 10 days, the new posts of some 14 million people were set to public by default.
Normally when someone posts something on Facebook they are given the option of choosing who sees that post. If they set that post to Friends then any subsequent posts they make will also be set to Friends.
The bug overrode this process and instead set the audience for all future posts to Public. If users had noticed this change they could change the audience back, but there’s a strong likelihood that many simply didn’t realise.
It appears as though the bug took place between 18 May and the 27 May and included any posts, photos or videos that were uploaded between those dates.
Why did this happen?
Facebook says the bug occurred while it was building a new product that will allow people to show featured parts of their profile to the public.
Unfortunately while building this feature it appears as though the audiences of all the posts, not just the featured ones, were set to Public.
“The problem has been fixed, and for anyone affected, we changed the audience back to what they’d been using before.” Explained Erin Egan, Facebook’s Chief Privacy Officer.
Will I know if I’ve been affected?
Yes, Facebook is letting those affected know starting today. If you have you’ll see a special pop-up either in your Facebook app or on the desktop site that will explain what happened and even list the posts that were set to public by accident.
If your posts were set to Public by accident then Facebook has already set those posts back to their original setting so you won’t have to start trawling back through old posts and make sure they’re all in order.
How does audience posting work?
Whenever you choose to post something on Facebook you’re given a choice of who can see it. This could be Public (everyone), Friends or Friends except where you can limit those of your friends who see it.
What’s important here is that Facebook remembers what you chose last time. So if you set this post as Public, the next time you go to upload a picture or comment that too will be set to Public.
You can of course change it, but it’s worth remembering if you ever decide to change your audience for a specific post and then forget to change it back again.