Skip to main content

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 Only the final take was ever published to the platform, but when downloading that user data, those unpublished videos also showed up in the files.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.

Editors' Recommendations

Hillary K. Grigonis
Hillary never planned on becoming a photographer—and then she was handed a camera at her first writing job and she's been…
Facebook A.I. could fix one of the most annoying problems in video chat apps
Woman looking at videos on Facebook

Communication on Facebook might be predominantly carried out via text, but the social media giant may nonetheless help to solve some of the biggest challenges with audio communication. Announced on Friday, July 10, ahead of the International Conference on Machine Learning, Facebook has developed a new, cutting-edge artificial intelligence that’s able to distinguish up to five voices speaking simultaneously.

That could be transformative for everything from next-gen hearing aids or smart speakers dialing in and amplifying certain voices to future Zoom-style video conferencing learning to better prioritize speakers to stop everyone talking over each other.

Read more
Activists behind Facebook ad boycott rip Zuckerberg after meeting
mark zuckerberg thinking

Activist organizations behind a widespread ad boycott of Facebook told Digital Trends they don’t believe CEO Mark Zuckerberg is committing to confronting hateful content after meeting with him and other Facebook executives on Tuesday -- with one calling it a "PR exercise."

Zuckerberg, COO Sheryl Sandberg, and CPO Christopher Cox met with organizers from the NAACP, Color Of Change, Anti-Defamation League, Stop Hate for Profit, and Free Press to discuss Facebook’s failure to curtail the spread of hate and disinformation across its platform. In a statement from Stop Hate for Profit, the organization said that Zuckerberg “offered the same old defense.”

Read more
Facebook will label controversial content, ban hate speech in ads after boycott
mark zuckerberg thinking

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said that the social network will be changing several content moderation policies after a number of major advertisers pledged to boycott the company. In a major reversal, Zuckerberg said the company would ban hate speech in paid advertisements on the platform and start cracking down on harmful posts by public figures.

Zuckerberg revealed the changes in a video and post on Facebook, where the CEO said that the social network is "prohibiting a wider category of hateful content in ads."

Read more