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07 December 2011, 11:48

Facebook glitch gave access to other users' private pictures

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Zoom The blogger who discovered the Facebook glitch published private pictures of Mark Zuckerberg
A Facebook software flaw has resulted in several of founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg's private pictures being made public on the internet. Facebook has confirmed that, under certain circumstances, users were temporarily able to access other users' private pictures; the hole was quickly closed with a temporary fix.

To gain access to another person's private pictures, a user first had to report one of the person's public pictures as inappropriate. Facebook then offered the option to flag additional pictures from the person's profile as inappropriate – however, Forbes reports that, in some cases, this option also allowed users to access the person's private pictures.

In a statement, a spokesperson for Facebook said: "The bug allowed anyone to view a limited number of another user's most recently uploaded photos irrespective of the privacy settings for these photos," noting that, "This was the result of one of our recent code pushes and was live for a limited period of time. Upon discovering the bug, we immediately disabled the system, and will only return functionality once we can confirm the bug has been fixed."

After reports about the Facebook hole were circulated on blogs and on social networks, a number of users accessed Mark Zuckerberg's profile. Some of them were successful: several new private photos, for example depicting Zuckerberg in the kitchen or holding a chicken, have since appeared online.

The blogger who discovered the hole told the Wall Street Journal that this was simply a case of terrible programming on Facebook's part. The flaw will probably add fuel to the debates about the data privacy of Facebook users; both German data protection watchdogs and the US authorities have been keeping a close eye on the social networking site for some time. In Germany, Facebook has been repeatedly accused of violating users' privacy not only via official features, but also by being careless when handling users' data.


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