Storify browser extension publicizes private Facebook updates

Facebook graph privacy search 

A word of advice: Just because you’ve published an update on Facebook and set custom privacy settings doesn’t mean that the content will stay private. Point in case, AGBeat reported an inherent flaw in Storify, realized by Julie Pippert, Director of Artful Media Group, which publishes private Facebook posts to a very public, viewable platform. It’s just adding to the mounting evidence that your privacy settings aren’t as secure as you imagine them to be.

Storify relaunched back in November to become as the de facto platform for discovering current events as covered by social media platforms. Users can pull in content from social networks including Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, and others to aggregate a stream of content about a particular topic.

The culprit in this case was a third-party Storify browser extension. With the extension, users can pull any content from Facebook and republish it Storify. Facebook adds that Storify isn’t the party at fault here. The company does take measures to block off the republishing of content behind non-public settings.

The flaw allows private posts in Facebook Groups to be made easily visible. And these updates are attributed to the original publisher by name and photo, as well. So not only is the content itself made public, so is the person who said it. 

But all types of content, granted that it’s visible to you it in the first place, is arguably fair grounds for sharing on third-party platforms. And this isn’t necessarily an issue exclusive to Storify.

Facebook’s privacy settings are porous — as is the case with most social networks. You might remember when Randi Zuckerberg, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s sister, called out her sister’s friend for publicly sharing a harmless, yet intimate candid photo via Twitter (which originated on Facebook) of the Zuckerberg siblings enjoying themselves with friends. The friend in question, while not friends with Randi, noticed the photo in her own News Feed when Randi negligently tagged her sister. But expectedly chalking up the incident to “bad manners,” Randi Zuckerberg brushed off Facebook’s privacy inconsistencies.

As much as privacy settings can be evangelized by Facebook, it takes just a screen shot by a friend or a friend of a friend to publicize your “private” content. Right, Snapchatters?


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