18th November 2019

Facebook breach exposed 6.8 million users’ private photos

Credit: Dazeinfo

Facebook has confirmed a breach on its platform that exposed over 6.8 million users’ private photos, even the ones they hadn’t posted.

They shared this in a blog post:

Our internal team discovered a photo API bug that may have affected people who used Facebook Login and granted permission to third-party apps to access their photos. We have fixed the issue but, because of this bug, some third-party apps may have had access to a broader set of photos than usual for 12 days between September 13 to September 25, 2018.

When someone gives permission for an app to access their photos on Facebook, we usually only grant the app access to photos people share on their timeline. In this case, the bug potentially gave developers access to other photos, such as those shared on Marketplace or Facebook Stories. The bug also impacted photos that people uploaded to Facebook but chose not to post. For example, if someone uploads a photo to Facebook but doesn’t finish posting it – maybe because they’ve lost reception or walked into a meeting – we store a copy of that photo for three days so the person has it when they come back to the app to complete their post.

Currently, we believe this may have affected up to 6.8 million users and up to 1,500 apps built by 876 developers. The only apps affected by this bug were ones that Facebook approved to access the photos API and that individuals had authorized to access their photos.

This means that photos users uploaded but either decided not to post, that got interrupted by connectivity issues, or that they otherwise never finished sharing could have winded up with app developers.

Facebook’s engineering director Tomer Bar went on to say on behalf of the company in the same blog:

We’re sorry this happened. Early next week we will be rolling out tools for app developers that will allow them to determine which people using their app might be impacted by this bug. We will be working with those developers to delete the photos from impacted users.

We will also notify the people potentially impacted by this bug via an alert on Facebook. The notification will direct them to a Help Center link where they’ll be able to see if they’ve used any apps that were affected by the bug.

We are also recommending people log into any apps with which they have shared their Facebook photos to check which photos they have access to.

Facebook shared this image to reflect that it only stores photos from incomplete posts for three days.

According to TechCrunch, Facebook didn’t disclose when it discovered the bug immediately but fixed it on September 25th. Facebook had responded to their enquiry stating they had to take time to investigate the total apps and people affected and build a warning notification.

‘The delay could put Facebook at risk of GDPR fines for not promptly disclosing the issue within 72 hours that can go up to 20 million pounds or 4 percent of annual global revenue’. – TechCrunch

Sandi

Tech blogger. Gadget junkie. Life lover. I love eyeliner. Miller runs through my veins.

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