Facebook admits 6 billion users' private photos accessed by third-party

Sheri Evans
December 17, 2018

The glitch could undermine Facebook's efforts to assure users and regulators that it was making progress in bolstering security and privacy after a series of embarrassments, internet analysts said.

The firm discovered - and made public a bug that had affected its app between September 13 and September 25.

Photos that users started to upload to Facebook but did not post could have been accessed, along with images posted to Facebook Stories, Tomer Bar, an engineering director at Facebook, wrote in a blog post.

However, the bug potentially gave access to photos shared on the Facebook Marketplace as well as through Facebook Stories.

Friday's revelation quick drew sharp rebukes from privacy advocates. Normally this would only give the app access to photos that were published to the user's timeline but other photos were exposed as well. "It's like a provider sending draft emails". The company estimates that the issue affects up to 6.8 million users and that 1,500 apps from 876 developers could have accessed the image content without consent. Yes, Facebook has announced that it accidentally exposed private photos of millions of users to third-party apps.

The bug apparently stemmed from a problem in Facebook's Photo API, (application program interface). The team also promised to notify users impacted by this bug via an alert on Facebook. In this case, this may have affected up to 6.8 million users and up to 1,500 apps. This "bug" affects almost 6.8 million of Facebook users. A spokesman for the FTC declined to comment.

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A Facebook bug may have exposed private and unlisted photos of users to the wider web. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) echoed in a tweet Friday.

A spokeswoman from Facebook tells CR that the company discovered and fixed the bug on September 25. The bug has been fixed and Facebook is alerting people potentially affected.

It's unfortunately the latest in a long string of data breaches - many of which have happened this year.

Hackers got access and stole private data in September.

The Irish Data Protection Commission has begun a statutory investigation into the company's compliance with European GDPR rules, following news of the bug.

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