Yesterday Facebook revealed in a blog post that at least 800,000 users were recently affected by a bug that caused the system to temporarily unblock some people that they had previously blocked.
Blocking someone on Facebook invariably prevents them from seeing posts in a blocker’s profile; connecting as a friend, or starting Messenger conversations. Blocking someone also automatically ‘unfriends’ the person
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Facebook’s Chief Privacy Officer Erin Egan further said that the mistakenly unblocked users weren’t automatically reinstated as friends nor did they get access to any info that’s only shared with friends, but they could see things posted to a wider audience. Alarmingly, however, the bug did allow blocked users to contact the person who blocked them, although, about 83% of affected users apparently only had one blocked person temporarily unblocked.
For some people, who noticed that their block list had gotten shorter without their doing or knowledge, it would have been an unsettling notion that these blocked people now had access to their lives again. The blocking function can sometimes be used by people on Facebook against other people who are abusive towards them or have harassed them in the past or typically people who just annoy them So, this security breach could be considered a major screw-up on Facebook’s behalf.
So, what happens now if you are one of the 800,000 users affected by the unblock malfunction?
Facebook has advised those users affected that they didn’t have to do anything as the issue has now been rectified. However, Facebook also asks that users check your blocked list to make sure it still includes all of those previously on your list.
It is worth noting here that this is the second software glitch Facebook has revealed in less than a month. Just a few weeks ago, the company disclosed that a software bug set some posts to ‘public’ by default regardless of whether those posts were meant for public viewing or not. The scale and scope of that bug was much larger than this one and affected a whopping 14 million users over several days in May.