Another bug: Photos of nearly 7 million Facebook users exposed

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Four years and counting since I deleted my FB account. You couldn’t pay me to go back to it.

From Hollywood Reporter: Facebook’s privacy controls have broken down yet again, this time through a software flaw affecting nearly 7 million users who had photos exposed to a much wider audience than intended.

The bug disclosed Friday gave hundreds of apps unauthorized access to photos that could in theory include images that would embarrass some of the affected users. They also included photos people may have uploaded but hadn’t yet posted, perhaps because they had changed their mind.

It’s not yet known whether anyone actually saw the photos, but the revelation of the now-fixed problem served as another reminder of just how much data Facebook has on its 2.27 billion users, as well has how frequently these slipups are recurring.

The bug is the latest in a series of privacy lapses that continue to crop up, despite Facebook’s repeated pledges to batten down its hatches and do a better job preventing unauthorized access to the pictures, thoughts and other personal information its users intend so share only with friends and family.

In general, when people grant permission for a third-party app to access their photos, they are sharing all the photos on their Facebook page, regardless of privacy settings meant to limit a photo to small circles such as family. The bug potentially gave developers access to even more photos, such as those shared on separate Marketplace and Facebook Stories features, as well as photos that weren’t actually posted.

Facebook said the users’ photos may have been exposed for 12 days in September. The company said the bug has been fixed.

The company declined to say how many of the affected users are from Europe, where stricter privacy laws took effect in May and could subject companies to fines. Facebook said it has notified the Irish Data Protection Commission of the breach.

The problem comes in a year fraught with privacy scandals and other problems for the world’s biggest social network.

Revelations that the data-mining firm Cambridge Analytica improperly accessed data from as many as 87 million users led to congressional hearings and changes in what sorts of data Facebook lets outside developers access. In June, a bug affecting privacy settings led some users to post publicly by default regardless of their previous settings. This bug affected as many as 14 million users over several days in May.

With each breakdown, Facebook risks losing credibility with both its audience and the advertisers whose spending generates most of the company’s revenue.

“It’s like they keep getting these chinks in the armor that is causing this trust deficit,” said Michael Priem, CEO of Modern Impact, which places ads for a variety of major brands.

Although Facebook doesn’t appear to be losing a lot of users, Priem said some advertisers have been seeing data indicating that people are spending less time on the social network. That’s raising concerns about whether the privacy breakdowns and problems with misinformation being spread on the services are taking a toll.

Read the whole story here.

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14 responses to “Another bug: Photos of nearly 7 million Facebook users exposed

  1. Many years ago, M Zberg declared users of his system, “Dumb f…ers.” You are not a qualified customer. What is a good platform for a blog?

     
  2. I removed myself from Facebook when the blogger Amy Welborn tracked me down and located my email in 2014, after I had posted an unfavorable review on Amazon for one of her books. It was my ninety-second review on Amazon, and the first one in which an author responded theatening legal action (she later cooled down). Needless to say, Amy’s name is now synonomous with “mud” for me.
    I also have never regretted getting off Facebook. Wish I had avoided it completely.

     
    • She threatened to sue you because of your book review?
      I’d never heard of Amy Welborn, so I looked her up. She’s married to a former priest, good grief.
      Here’s an interesting piece on her: http://www.culturewars.com/2006/Amy_Welborn.htm

       
      • Thanks, Dr. Eowyn. The book “Wish You Were Here” was about how divorcee Amy coped with widowhood after the death of her second, former-priest husband. I mentioned the article you cite. I later found another she wrote for the Jan 17, 2003 “Commonwealth” entitled “My Husband the Priest,” which is no longer available free on the Web.

         
    • She seems just a little bit sensitive…

       
  3. I have never had an account. I was suspicious of this at the outset and I still can’t understand the attraction. My wife has an account so she can keep up with friends and relatives. I suppose it isn’t a big deal if one is careful with the information provided.

    It seems to appeal to the ego of a lot of people who otherwise wouldn’t attain any measure of fame. Over time a person can drop a lot of personal information in dribs and drabs. With the advent of facial recognition there is also the prospect of being targeted in other ways.

    The CIA invested funds in this. They tried another approach that met with quite a bit of push back earlier. This one actually had people scrambling to provide all this detail about themselves. What they want is a system where a name, number or photo instantly pulls up every bit of personal and financial information on a person or group.

    So, even commenting on a site that is connected makes one vulnerable. I think it may be more difficult to obtain information, but certainly not impossible. These things aren’t “glitches”, the “glitch” is that somebody found out. They admit that they begin gathering and collating information the second you begin to compose something. Even if you don’t “publish” it, they have it, including any attachments.

    Personally I can see no advantage to this. I could be missing something however, as I don’t use it. To me it is only one or two degrees separated from having a permanent implant that records everything you see and hear.

     
    • WC Fields once said, and I’m probably paraphrasing as I’m too lazy to look up the exact quote, “I’d never join any organization that was dumb enough to want me as a member”.

      This describes my feeling about Facebook now and from the start.

      Just because I’m paranoid doesn’t mean they’re not out to get me.

       
      • It was Groucho Marx.

         
        • Lo…..thanks for the info….I LOVED Groucho….and my firstborn watched old black/white reruns of his show in his toddlerhood…like, age 2…..never figured out WHY he liked it at such a young age (weren’t all his “jokes” double meaning?????…just like the old “Rocky and Bullwinkle Show…which this kid also watched….)…but we allowed it anyway (this kid ended up brilliant, and an early acceptance /graduate of a prestigious Eastern university in double major of engineering geology/archaeology and now runs his own firm)……BUT BACK TO THE TOPIC OF THIS POST: why would I put up an expensive 6-foot wrought-iron fence (and spend thousands every-other year to maintain it…sand, prime, repaint……) in my front yard and a 4-ft fence around the rest of my half acre-plus, to maintain my privacy…….and then invite the whole freakin’ world into my life, my property, etc etc…with “Facebook?” NOT!!!!! I knew it was a snake at the onset and so I DID NOT pick it up.

           
          • Yeah. I have a T-shirt with one of his sayings on it: “Outside of a dog a book is a man’s best friend. Inside of a dog, it’s too dark to read”.

             
  4. I’m just amazed Farcebook still has 7 million users.

     
  5. There is another detail here that is disturbing, that of pedophilia, pedophiles will creep around facebook looking for photos provided in ignorance by parents, and siphoning them up to distribute elsewhere, and there are unfortunately a volume of parents who will post full nudes of their children to the place as if its some kind of family photo album, I don’t understand how someone can do that, exposing their children to who knows what. It doesn’t take more than one leak, “glitch”, or a privacy settings mispost that gets exposed to “friends of friends” (a category that shouldn’t even be selectable) and that photo will end up all over the internet in the worst places.

    Who knows how many pictures of that type also got “glitched” to being public. I encourage anyone who has a facebook or knows someone who does to make sure such pictures stay off facebook entirely, tell your friends and your “friends of friends” that it doesn’t matter how “cute” the kid is, never ever post such pictures to facebook, ever.

     

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