Facebook Privacy Glitch Sends 14 Million Accounts Public – Without Their Knowledge

by: The Knowledge Group

June 12, 2018


It seems like the start of a story everyone has heard at the local tech worker bar – did you hear the one about the software glitch that created a disaster? Except, this time the glitched happened on Facebook’s watch only a month or so after the company was beat up publicly in Congress for selling everyone’s data to the Russians and company. When it rains, it pours, or so it seems for the social media giant in 2018.

Specifically, the latest software glitch happened behind the scenes in Facebook land, essentially turning users’ posts that were intended to be private into publicly accessible information. That’s a big problem, especially in a world today where everyone is searching everyone for all sorts of uses or checks. The wrong post or photo can cost someone a job interview, a promotion, a relationship or more.

In classic damage control mode, Facebook’s spokesperson immediately apologized for the error as soon as it went public as well. The glitch was fixed as soon as possible, but the exposure lasted at least a week. Somewhere between May 18 and May 22 it occurred, but the fix wasn’t put into place until at least 5 to 9 days later by May 27.

Normally, a user can set his or her preference of Facebook post exposure. Some people have everything public, but many have their material only going to friends or even closer. During the glitch period every post was automatically set to public unless a user noticed and manually set it to more restricted. Few even paid attention, assuming their original setting was in place and doing its job. That turned into a 14 million plus mailing list that Facebook then had to notify of the problem once the glitch was found and fixed. This comes on the heels of the company having to explain why it was also selling data to Chinese companies that are well-known to be government owned by China (ZTE and Huawei).

The current situation seems to be a cascade effect, with one issue triggering another, enough to give Mark Zuckerberg reason to want a vacation soon. Ironically, the privacy glitch does seem to be an unrelated bad coincidence at a time when Facebook would prefer everything about it went quiet.

We hope you can join us for an upcoming webcast we are holding about the very latest in Data Breach Litigation, the event is scheduled for June 20th and will be recorded should you be unable to listen live.  Full details and registration information can be found by clicking here. This webcast would also be eligable for Continuing Legal Education Credit (CLE).