New Facebook bug has affected nearly seven million user accounts

World Friday 14/December/2018 21:48 PM
By: Times News Service
New Facebook bug has affected nearly seven million user accounts

Muscat: A bug discovered by Facebook has affected nearly seven million accounts on the social media site, granting third party companies and applications access to users' photos that hadn't even been uploaded onto the platform.
The bug enabled unscrupulous third party apps to access users' photos for 12 days from September 12 to 25, and comes in the wake of Facebook's feeds being used by data analysis company Cambridge Analytica to allegedly sway the US Presidential elections.
"Our internal team discovered a photo API bug that may have affected people who used Facebook Login and granted permission to third-party apps to access their photos. We have fixed the issue but, because of this bug, some third-party apps may have had access to a broader set of photos than usual for 12 days between September 13 to September 25, 2018.
"Currently, we believe this may have affected up to 6.8 million users and up to 1,500 apps built by 876 developers," said Facebook employee Tomer Bar, writing on the Facebook for Developers blog. "The only apps affected by this bug were ones that Facebook approved to access the photos API and that individuals had authorized to access their photos.
"We're sorry this happened," he added. "Early next week we will be rolling out tools for app developers that will allow them to determine which people using their app might be impacted by this bug. We will be working with those developers to delete the photos from impacted users."
Although Facebook have apologised for the slip up, this is not going to sit well with users across the globe, many of whom feel that tech companies invade an inordinate amount of privacy.
Earlier this year, both Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and more recently, Google chief Sundar Pichai were summoned before the United States Congress to explain how their software tracked people's whereabouts and knew their preferences.
"When someone gives permission for an app to access their photos on Facebook, we usually only grant the app access to photos people share on their timeline," added Bar. "In this case, the bug potentially gave developers access to other photos, such as those shared on Marketplace or Facebook Stories. The bug also impacted photos that people uploaded to Facebook but chose not to post.
"For example, if someone uploads a photo to Facebook but doesn't finish posting it - maybe because they've lost reception or walked into a meeting - we store a copy of that photo so the person has it when they come back to the app to complete their post," he added.
The company will notify people whose accounts have been affected by the bug, and will provide them support on how to undo the damage caused.
Bar said, "We will also notify the people potentially impacted by this bug via an alert on Facebook. The notification will direct them to a Help Center link where they'll be able to see if they've used any apps that were affected by the bug.
"We are also recommending people log into any apps with which they have shared their Facebook photos to check which photos they have access to," he added.