Facebook apologizes after a glitch saved discarded webcam videos

Facebook users in large numbers are downloading the data the platform has on them after the Cambridge Analytica revelations, and the added scrutiny has revealed the company also tracks text and calls on Android phones. And now, reports indicate that unposted “draft” videos were saved on the platform.

After the New York Magazine’s Select All reported last week that one user had found videos recorded on Facebook but never published inside the data, Facebook has apologized. The company says a bug saved those video files and that it is deleting those old draft files from the data.

Last week, one user found “takes” or different video files she had recorded directly with Facebook, using a webcam. Only the final take was ever published to the platform, but when downloading that user data, those unpublished videos also showed up in the files.

Unlike the vague opt-in that allowed Facebook to keep track of text and calls after users allowed the app access to their contacts, Facebook says the latest privacy fiasco is a technical bug. Prompted by the original story from the New York Magazine, the company launched an investigation. “We discovered a bug that prevented draft videos from being deleted,” a Facebook representative told the magazine. “We are deleting them and apologize for the inconvenience.”

Like the settings that allowed the app thisisyourdigitallife to access friend data without their permission, the draft video bug is from a feature that has already been removed from the social platform. Facebook Live has now replaced the webcam videos of the network’s younger days, and of course, with live video there are no second and third takes.

In a recent interview with Vox, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg suggested that the company was slow to invest in security at the beginning but that the company now has a much bigger focus on the ways the platform can be abused. “When we started,” he said, “we thought about how good it would be if people could connect, if everyone had a voice. Frankly, we didn’t spend enough time investing in, or thinking through, some of the downside uses of the tools. So for the first 10 years of the company, everyone was just focused on the positive. I think now people are appropriately focused on some of the risks and downsides as well.”

Zuckerberg, in the interview that also covered topics such as fake news and bots, suggested that working to fight the different types of abuse on the platform will take some time — “I think we will dig through this hole, but it will take a few years,” he said.


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