Facebook flaw exposes private information

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Facebook flaw exposes private information

Social site admits to privacy settings 'bug'.

A major security flaw in Facebook has allowed users to see other people's personal information, and once again opened the social networking site to accusations of not securing user data effectively.

The fault meant that users editing their privacy settings and then using Facebook's 'See how my profile looks to friends' feature were able to see friends' chat boxes and friend requests.

A Facebook spokesperson said that a bug in the system had revealed private information "for a limited period of time", and that engineers had disabled the chat function while a fix was carried out.

"When we received reports of the problem, our engineers promptly diagnosed it and temporarily disabled the chat function. We pushed out a fix to take care of the visible friend requests which is now complete," the firm said.

The spokesperson added that the chat function will be up and running across the site shortly. However, Facebook was unable to comment on whether the bug was new, or had only now been discovered.

Candid Wueest, a security expert with Symantec, argued that the news is yet another worrying example of high-profile sites being affected by privacy breaches.

"For any organisation, whether you are a social networking site or not, privacy breaches are worrying. This isn't the first privacy breach of its kind to plague a social networking site," he said.

"It is therefore important that all social networking sites regularly review the policies in which the privacy settings sit. We must note that, once the breach had become public, Facebook acted quickly in fixing the alleged flaw."

The incident is not the first time that Facebook has been found wanting with its privacy settings, and will add more ammunition to those who say the site cannot be trusted with personal information.

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