Facebook Fixes Bug That Exposed Private Chats

A Facebook security flaw that let members view the live chats of friends has been fixed, according to the company.

Another day, another Facebook security snafu. The popular social network has patched a major security bug that allowed users to snoop on their friends' private chats, and view their pending friend requests.

The exploit caused Facebook to temporarily disable chat, which was back online as of 11 a.m. (US Pacific) on Wednesday.

Users could inadvertently activate the security breach, which was first reported by TechCrunch Europe, via their privacy settings. Facebook has since patched the bug, and sent PC World this statement explaining the mishap:

"For a limited period of time, a bug permitted some users' chat messages and pending friend requests to be made visible to their friends by manipulating the "preview my profile" feature of Facebook privacy settings. When we received reports of the problem, our engineers promptly diagnosed it and temporarily disabled the chat function. We also pushed out a fix to take care of the visible friend requests which is now complete."

Facebook did not report the number of users who were affected by the bug.

The chat exploit is the latest in a long string of Facebook security controversies. Two months ago, the site was victimized by five different exploits, including four hoax applications and a variant of Koobface virus.

US Senator Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) last week urged the Federal Trade Commission to create privacy guidelines for social networking sites like Facebook, Twitter, and MySpace. Schumer singled out the "complicated and confusing" steps that Facebook users must take to avoid sharing their personal information with third-party sites.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has infamously made several foot-in-mouth remarks that glibly dismiss the importance of user privacy.

A recent survey by Sophos, an IT security firm, shows that Facebook users worldwide are concerned about proposed changes to the social network's security policies.

It appears that today's chat bug was zapped before it could cause much harm. Still, the incident contributes to the widely-held perception that the term "Facebook security" is an oxymoron.

Join the Good Gear Guide newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags koobfacesecuritysocial networkingbugFacebook

Our Back to Business guide highlights the best products for you to boost your productivity at home, on the road, at the office, or in the classroom.

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Jeff Bertolucci

PC World (US online)
Show Comments

Essentials

Microsoft L5V-00027 Sculpt Ergonomic Keyboard Desktop

Learn more >

Lexar® JumpDrive® S57 USB 3.0 flash drive

Learn more >

Mobile

Lexar® JumpDrive® S45 USB 3.0 flash drive 

Learn more >

Exec

HD Pan/Tilt Wi-Fi Camera with Night Vision NC450

Learn more >

Audio-Technica ATH-ANC70 Noise Cancelling Headphones

Learn more >

Lexar® Professional 1800x microSDHC™/microSDXC™ UHS-II cards 

Learn more >

Lexar® JumpDrive® C20c USB Type-C flash drive 

Learn more >

Budget

Back To Business Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest News Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Michael Hargreaves

Windows 10 for Business / Dell XPS 13

I’d happily recommend this touchscreen laptop and Windows 10 as a great way to get serious work done at a desk or on the road.

Aysha Strobbe

Windows 10 / HP Spectre x360

Ultimately, I think the Windows 10 environment is excellent for me as it caters for so many different uses. The inclusion of the Xbox app is also great for when you need some downtime too!

Mark Escubio

Windows 10 / Lenovo Yoga 910

For me, the Xbox Play Anywhere is a great new feature as it allows you to play your current Xbox games with higher resolutions and better graphics without forking out extra cash for another copy. Although available titles are still scarce, but I’m sure it will grow in time.

Kathy Cassidy

STYLISTIC Q702

First impression on unpacking the Q702 test unit was the solid feel and clean, minimalist styling.

Anthony Grifoni

STYLISTIC Q572

For work use, Microsoft Word and Excel programs pre-installed on the device are adequate for preparing short documents.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?