Facebook bug allowed users to eavesdrop on chats
When private conversations aren't
Facebook engineers on Wednesday disabled the site's live chat function after people outside the company discovered a bug that allowed users to eavesdrop on their friends' conversations.
The site - whose founder insists "people have really gotten comfortable sharing more information" with world+dog - also had to take emergency action to correct a separate hole that allowed users to see their friends' pending friend requests.
Ironically, the gaffes were the result of a new "preview my profile" service Facebook added late last month in an effort to give users more control over their privacy settings. Facebook said they had persisted for "a limited period of time," but wasn't any more specific.
In a statement issued a few hours after the bug was reported by TechCrunch, Facebook said it temporarily suspended the chat function while it patched the information leak. With that work completed, it said it expected to turn chat back on "shortly."
Over the past month, Facebook has been under siege by a variety of critics who say the site is imperiling the privacy of its 400 million or so users. Even Chris Kelly, Facebook's former privacy chief, has jumped on the bandwagon. Last month, while stumping to be California's next attorney general, he took pains to distance himself from the most recent policy shift, which automatically shares user data with partners.
"I strongly encourage Facebook to structure all its programs to allow Facebook users to give permission before their information is shared with third parties," he wrote.
The video below demonstrates the Facebook chat eavesdrop bug before it got squished.