Almost a million Facebook users had their block list unblocked by a bug

Facebook has revealed via a blog post that a bug, active between May 29 and June 5, had messed with over 800,000 users’ block list over that one-week period, accidentally unblocking people the affected users had previously blocked.

While the social media giant claims that no friendships that were previously ended had been reestablished, the bug did allow posts to be shared with “a wider audience”.

“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,” explained Facebook’s chief privacy officer Erin Egan.

Of the affected accounts, 83% had “only one person they had blocked temporarily unblocked”. While that may sound harmless – affecting only a tiny fraction of the 2.4 billion Facebook users – the bug isn’t good news for anyone using Facebook’s blocking feature to protect themselves from abuse and harassment.

Image courtesy: Facebook

Image courtesy: Facebook

“We know that the ability to block someone is important – and we’d like to apologize and explain what happened,” Egan added.

Facebook says the bug has been fixed and has begun informing affected users via a pop-up message. 

While it’s admirable that the company has publicly disclosed the news of the bug, it’s another hard hit on the company’s already-tarnished public perception. The platform is still reeling from the aftermath of the Cambridge Analytica scandal, with accusations of deceiving users into sharing personal information being hurled at it by European consumer groups.

Sharmishta Sarkar
Managing Editor (APAC)

Sharmishta is TechRadar's APAC Managing Editor and loves all things photography, something she discovered while chasing monkeys in the wilds of India (she studied to be a primatologist but has since left monkey business behind). While she's happiest with a camera in her hand, she's also an avid reader and has become a passionate proponent of ereaders, having appeared on Singaporean radio to talk about the convenience of these underrated devices. When she's not testing camera kits or the latest in e-paper tablets, she's discovering the joys and foibles of smart home gizmos. She's also the Australian Managing Editor of Digital Camera World and, if that wasn't enough, she contributes to T3 and Tom's Guide, while also working on two of Future's photography print magazines Down Under.