For a period of four days in May, about 14 million Facebook users around the world had their default sharing setting for all new posts set to public, the company revealed Thursday.
Normally, if you post something on Facebook, the audience setting of your status update defaults to the one you most recently used. So if you shared something and set it to be seen only by your Facebook friends, your next post will automatically have the same audience setting. For some users while the glitch was active, that didn’t happen.
The posts were clearly marked as public, but users who were used to their privacy settings could have easily overlooked the public designation.
The bug was active while Facebook tested a new feature between May 18 and May 27. The fixes started rolling out on May 22, and Facebook seemed more than willing to stress that while they messed with your privacy settings users were still able, if they noticed, to change their settings back during that time.
The company said it will begin to alert people who were impacted immediately. Obviously, given Facebook’s rocky year of mismanagement of its platform, it’s both a public relations and operational disaster.