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Facebook says bug temporarily unblocked users

The Facebook logo on a sign
Facebook has been grappling with privacy controversies very publicly since the Cambridge Analytica data scandal broke. Photo: Alexander Koerner/Getty Images

Facebook experienced a bug that temporarily unblocked some users from interacting with users who had previously blocked them.

Why it matters: Once again, the company is apologizing for a user privacy violation, this time in a feature that is key to address harassment and abuse. "We know that the ability to block someone is important — and we’d like to apologize and explain what happened," said Erin Egan, the company's chief privacy officer, in a Monday blog post.

The details:

  • Egan said that beginning "today we are notifying over 800,000 users about a bug in Facebook and Messenger that unblocked some people they had blocked."
  • Blocking a user also unfriends them, and Egan said that the bug that unblocked some users did not restore those Facebook friendships. It did, however, allow the formerly-blocked user to view content posted by the person who had blocked them if it was shared beyond their immediate Facebook friends.
  • "The bug was active between May 29 and June 5 — and while someone who was unblocked could not see content shared with friends, they could have seen things posted to a wider audience," she said in the blog post.

Separately, Facebook announced on Monday a further tightening of the ways developers could access user information on Monday as it continues to try to address privacy concerns.