[Updated] Flaw: Facebook discloses my personal information

Exceptionnellement, ce billet sera en anglais.

Image: My Facebook Security SettingsFacebook now offers a sneak peak of its new version at new.facebook.com. While browsing my own profile, I realized my birth year was shown, even though my security settings are set to “Show only month & day in my profile.”

At first, I thought my birth year was visible because I was browsing my own profile. So I browsed some friends’ profiles, to find out everyone’s full birth date is disclosed in the new version, even though it is not in its predecessor.

Image: My Facebook Profile excerpt

To my understanding, this is an error. The birth year is shown in the “Info” tab, but not in the box that’s underneath the picture in all of the tabs. However, I feel this flaw indicates there is not enough effort that is being put into protecting users’ privacy.

I realize the new version is in a beta stage. However, it is public. So I expect it to be secure and to protect my personal information. Facebook is (or should be…) accountable for such a mistake. Even though my birth year is not that sensitive, I chose not to disclose it in my profile. Facebook should respect my decision and should be consequent with its privacy policy:

You should have control over your personal information.
Facebook helps you share information with your friends and people around you. You choose what information you put in your profile, including contact and personal information, pictures, interests and groups you join. And you control the users with whom you share that information through the privacy settings on the Privacy page.

This blog post has been sent to Facebook’s privacy staff.

On July 15th, the display of birth dates has been changed and I received this answer from the team:

Hi Gabriel,

Due to a technical glitch, some Facebook users’ full dates of birth were temporarily exposed. We have resolved the problem, and we’d like to assure you that this information is now being displayed according to the privacy settings that you originally chose for it.

Please be assured that Facebook takes users’ privacy very seriously. We regret this error and we apologize for any inconvenience it may have caused you. Let us know if you have any other questions or concerns.

Thanks for contacting Facebook,

Sophos also published the issue on their website on the 15 thanks to Graham Cluley.

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