Facebook Bug Changed Privacy Settings of Up to 14 Million Users

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Norman Sadeh, co-director of Carnegie Mellon University’s Privacy Engineering Program, said that although Facebook survived temporary losses of trust from the public in the past, the recent scandals appeared to be taking their toll on the social media company.

In response to the problems, the company has added a number of new privacy controls, as well as a centralized page for privacy and security settings. Mr. Sadeh said the new settings were still confusing.

One of Facebook’s key privacy features is that it lets people decide an audience for their posts. Someone can, for example, share a post with only a limited group of family and friends, or decide to make a post public so that anyone, including people not logged on to Facebook, can see it.

It was unclear if users could have done anything to their settings to prevent being affected by the bug the company revealed on Thursday.

Until Facebook and other companies improve their approach to privacy and develop settings that are easier to use and more aligned with what users want, “people should probably refrain from sharing too much sensitive information with these platforms,” Mr. Sadeh said.

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