Private pictures of millions of its users were exposed by Facebook without taking permission from the users, announced the largest social media platform of the world on Friday.
Those photos that Facebook users might have shared publicly might have been accessed by third-party app developers because of a bug in recent times, the company said in the announcement. According to the estimates of the social media company, the incident could have affected as many as 6.8 million users of the platform.
Facebook has suffered multiple breaches this year and the company had duly informed the Irish Data Protection Commission which is the agency that is tasked to oversee whether Facebook is complying with European regulations and as such it had launched a “statutory inquiry” into the largest social media platform of the world in terms of active user, the agency informed.
Tomer Bar, an engineering director at Facebook, wrote in a blog post that the bug allowed third parties to access even those pictures that users of Facebook had started to upload to the platform but had not yet posted them as well as those images that were posted to Facebook Stories.
“We’re sorry this happened,” he added.
“We have been investigating the issue since it was discovered to try and understand its impact so that we could ensure we are contacting the right developers and people affected by the bug. It then took us some time to build a meaningful way to notify people, and get translations done,” said a Facebook spokesperson to the media when asked about why the company chose to wait to let the users and the public know about the security breach.
There has been intense scrutiny by multiple governments on both sides of the Atlantic – in its home country the United States as well as in Europe, about the manner in which and the kind and type of information that the social media platform allows to be accessed by third-party app developers. Earlier this year, there was a huge controversy over the access to personal user data being accessed by research and consultancy form Cambridge Analytica of tens of millions of American users of Facebook for several year and had used the information to influence voters during the 2016 presidential election in the US. This was revealed by a data scientist who had been working for the British analytics firm.
Referring to the most recent data breach, Facebook said that because of the bug, it believes that the photos could have been accessed by 1,500 apps built by 876 developers.
It will notify people potentially impacted by the bug, Facebook said.
(Adapted from CNN.com)