Facebook has revealed (opens in new tab) 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.
“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.