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Facebook’s year of privacy mishaps continues — this time with a new software bug that ‘unblocked’ people

The bug affected 800,000 people and could have had serious safety implications.

Mark Zuckerberg onstage at F8 Facebook Developer Conference
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg
Justin Sullivan / Getty

Facebook can’t get out of its own way.

After months of nonstop drama centered around Facebook’s privacy policies, which included multiple formal hearings for CEO Mark Zuckerberg in front of U.S. and EU lawmakers, the company on Monday announced another privacy issue: A software bug “unblocked” some people who had previously been blocked by another user, meaning the unblocked user could suddenly see some posts from the person who blocked them.

The bug also meant that the person who had been blocked may have been able to reach out via Messenger to the person who blocked them, Facebook said in a blog post. The bug affected 800,000 users and was live for about a week at the end of May and early June.

There are lots of reasons people block others on Facebook, and some of them have to do with serious privacy or safety concerns. The fact that Facebook’s bug allowed people access to some posts from another person who had blocked them could have had serious implications.

The big issue here — just like the last bug the company announced which changed the privacy settings for millions of users without their permission — is that, little by little, Facebook keeps eroding user trust. Facebook posts and profile information are often personal, and the ability to control who sees that is an important element of feeling safe on the service.

This year, Facebook has routinely let users down when it comes to protecting their privacy, and even though this recent bug affected a relatively small percentage of users, it will hit some as yet another example of why Facebook can’t be trusted with peoples’ private information.

These issues haven’t yet hurt Facebook where it counts, which is in its user growth or revenue. But it’s tough to shake a bad reputation, and Facebook isn’t doing itself any favors.

Update: Why did it take Facebook almost a month between fixing this bug and alerting the public that it existed? Here’s the explanation from a company spokesperson:

“We became aware of the bug on May 31, but it took till June 5 to restore the blocks. It then took us some time to do due diligence that we had the right number of people impacted and to build the notification messages + get translations done. (It affected people globally).”

Facebook will start notifying people beginning today if they were impacted by this bug.

This article originally appeared on

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