Facebook bug exposed up to 6.8M users’ unposted photos to apps

Reset the “days since the last Facebook privacy scandal” counter, as a Facebook has just revealed a Photo API bug gave app developers too much access to the photos of up to 5.6 million users.

The bug allowed apps users had approved to pull their timeline photos to also receive their Facebook Stories, Marketplace photos, and most worryingly, photos they’d uploaded to Facebook but never shared. Facebook says the bug ran for 12 days from September 13th to September 25th.

Facebook initially didn’t disclose when it discovered the bug, but in response to TechCrunch’s inquiry, a spokesperson says that it was discovered and fixed on September 25th. They say it took time for the company to investigate whch apps and people were impacted, and build and translate the warning notification it will send impacted users. The delay could put Facebook at risk of fines for not promptly disclosing the issue within 72 hours.

Facebook provided merely a glib “We’re sorry this happened” in terms of an apology. It will provide tools next week for app developers to check if they were impacted and it will work with them to delete photos they shouldn’t have.

The company plans to notify people it suspects may have been impacted by the bug via Facebook notification that will direct them to the Help Center where they’ll see if they used any apps impacted by the bug. It’s recommending users log into apps to check if they have wrongful photo access. Here’s a look at a mockup of warning notifcation users will see:

The privacy failure will further weaken confidence that Facebook is a reponsible steward for our private data. That it keeps photos you partially uploaded but never posted in the first place is creepy, but the fact that these could be exposed to third-party developers is truly unacceptable.

And it seems Facebook is so tired of its failings that it couldn’t put forward even a seemingly heartfelt apology is telling. This company’s troubles are not only souring users on Facebook, but employees and the tech industry as large as well.

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