For four days in May, 14 million Facebook users had the default sharing setting for all their posts set to public, due to a bug, the company told CNN. Users who expected to post privately may have had their messages seen by strangers.
The bug was due to the testing of a new feature tag from May 18 to May 22. The issue was discovered by employees, and the social network reset all posts for those users, including those that may have been meant to be shared publicly, to private. Facebook told CNN that making that change took five days and ended on May 27.
Affected users will get a notification asking users to "Please Review Your Posts" with a list of status updates, photos and other notifications that may have been shared publicly by mistake.
"We have fixed this issue and starting today we are letting everyone affected know and asking them to review any posts they made during that time," Facebook Chief Privacy Officer Erin Egan said in a statement to press. "To be clear, this bug did not impact anything people had posted before — and they could still choose their audience just as they always have. We'd like to apologize for this mistake."
While this does seem like an honest mistake that was handled fairly quickly, it comes in the wake of the Cambridge Analytica scandal, in which millions of users had their Facebook data shared with a third-party firm without their knowledge.
Earlier this week, Facebook admitted that it had let makers of smartphones and feature phones access user data to develop device-specific applications, and that some Chinese companies were among those who got access.
Facebook is still trying to regain the trust of its users, and this surely won't help. CEO Mark Zuckerberg has already testified before Congress, and any little mistake on Facebook's part could increase scrutiny.