Naked Security Naked Security

Facebook accidentally unblocks people

It's fixed now, thankfully: be it airheads who post baloney or stalkers, all blocked users deserve to STAY blocked.

There are so, so many reasons to block the Facebook annoyarati. As Ranker enumerates in its 15 reasons why they’re so annoying, they can be selfie-saturaters, romance oversharers, my life is SO GREAT!-ers, feed cloggers, or whining whiner babies, for example.
Annoying is one thing. On the other end of the spectrum are the dangerous or illegal social media accounts: the stalkers, the child predators, the trolls, the bots, the scammers. But they all have one thing in common. They deserve to be blocked, and Facebook users deserve the benefits of blocking them, as in, to be spared their grating or endangering presence.
Well, Facebook goofed on that front. On Monday, the company admitted that it’s notifying over 800,000 users about a bug in Facebook and Messenger that unblocked some people they’d blocked. Facebook Chief Privacy Officer Erin Egan said in a Facebook newsroom post that the glitch was active between 29 May and 5 June.
She said that while someone who was unintentionally unblocked couldn’t actually see content shared with friends, they could have seen things posted to a wider audience: for example, pictures shared with friends of friends.

This is the way blocking is supposed to work: Blocked people can’t…

  • See things you post on your profile.
  • Start conversations with you on Messenger.
  • Add you as a friend.

Blocking people also unfriends them if you were previously friends. But in the case of this bug…

  • 83% of people affected by the bug had only one person they had blocked temporarily unblocked. Facebook didn’t mention just how many shoulda-stayed-blocked-and-buried zombies arose to plague the other 17%, though.
  • The shoulda-stayed-blocked ones may have been able to reach beyond the blocked grave to contact people on Messenger who had blocked them.
  • On the plus side, the bug didn’t reglue people to friends they’d cut off.

The bug is now fixed, and “everyone has been blocked again,” Egan said. One assumes she meant that those who should have stayed blocked have been re-entombed. Those affected by the bug should have received a notification on Facebook encouraging them to check their blocked list.
Hopefully nobody suffered serious consequences due to the bug.

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