ANOTHER FACEBOOK FOIBLE has reared its head, this time in the form of a bug that quietly unblocked blocked users so they could see the content and posts from their, er, blockers.
Rather than wait for some enterprising third-party security researcher to unearth the bug, Facebook's chief privacy officer, Erin Egan, took a swig from the mea culpa chalice.
"We are notifying over 800,000 users about a bug in Facebook and Messenger that unblocked some people they had blocked," he fessed-up on Facebook's behalf.
"The bug was active between 29 May and 5 June - and while someone who was unblocked could not see content shared with friends, they could have seen things posted to a wider audience. For example, pictures shared with friends of friends.
"We know that the ability to block someone is important — and we'd like to apologise and explain what happened."
The bug doesn't appear to have been active for long in the grand scheme of things, but it's yet another example a breach of trust between Facebook and its users. A block allows users to keep unwanted eyes away from their profiles and posts, as well as prevent any unsought conversations popping up Messenger, but the bug borked that and arguably represents a breach of privacy for hundreds of thousands of Facebook users.
However, Egan noted that the bug didn't reinstate any severed friend connections and said that some 83 per cent of people affected by the bug only saw one person they blocked get temporarily unblocked.
"This issue has now been fixed and everyone has been blocked again. People who were affected will get a notification on Facebook encouraging them to check their blocked list," Egan added.
The bug is more of a storm in a teacup than a massive security and privacy cock-up. But it comes hot on the heels of the Cambridge Analytica data-sharing scandal and Facebook's accidental sharing of the private posts of 14 million users, so trust in the social network isn't likely to be at an all-time high. µ
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Tens of people inconvenienced