Updated: Disabling permissions 'bug' in Facebook 'Happening Now' feature

Updated: Disabling permissions 'bug' in Facebook 'Happening Now' feature

Summary: Facebook's newly rolled out 'Happening Now' feature contains a major friend-permissions bug, according to some users.

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Facebook has rolled out a new feature, 'Happening Now', which features on a small number of users' home screens.

Docked to the right hand side of the screen, it displays real-time updates from your friends, such as wall posts, comments and check-in information, allowing users to see how their friends are interacting with one another -- all from the main screen.

However, users have taken to Twitter to blow the whistle on a major bug with the feature -- not fully rolled out to the 700 million users, involving friends' permissions.

This is the second privacy related issue Facebook has (and will have to) deal with in the past week. European regulators are looking into Facebook's method of delivery on the facial recognition features made available to users on Tuesday.

Three users, @dezinezync, @benjacob and @hackatac who discovered the bug, explained to me on Twitter the implications:

"Say a user's photos are viewable to friends only, and this user is not in my friends list. If a friend of mine comments on the photo of that user, I can see it from the 'Happening Now' feed."

There appears to be a permissions error where those who are not in their friends list can see photos of people, even though the album is restricted to who can see it.

Effectively, if your Facebook privacy settings are not locked down, it's a "wild west scene for all to see", another discovering user described.

For now, you can limit this bug by setting your permissions on Facebook to 'friends only', as it is unclear how far this bug spreads, or whether it goes beyond photos only.

Facebook told The Next Web:

"We are currently testing a feature within the news feed that gives people the ability to see what their friends are commenting on and liking, as these actions are being taken on Facebook.

This test includes a small percentage of Facebook users, just a fraction of a percent. In the coming weeks, as we learn more from this test, we’ll keep making improvements and may expand it to more people."

While this is not yet a fully rolled-out feature -- only featuring on a select number of profiles -- this permissions error is indicative of a permissions error which could fall deeper into the site.

Facebook was immediately unavailable for comment.

Update (00:11 GMT): Spokesperson Jaime Schopflin told me that Facebook refutes this 'bug', and that "this is how photos work".

"When a person tags their friend in a photo, the photo is posted to their friend's Wall where their friends can see it."

Users can disable this feature by unchecking the "Let friends of people tagged in my photos and posts see them" option in the main Facebook privacy settings.

Update: Those who discovered this bug in the first place can now confirm that it has been fixed by Facebook, days after Facebook said that the big did not exist.

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16 comments
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  • RE: Major permissions bug hits Facebook 'Happening Now' new feature

    My opinion is if you use social net works stand by for a ram. I think that is what they are all about, put your everything out there, or don't sign up to use these services. Very simple can not have your cake and eat it to.
    raskinner
  • RE: Major permissions bug hits Facebook 'Happening Now' new feature

    I found a long time ago on the general feed that very glitch. I can see a friend of a friend posting even though just by my friend commenting on that persons post even when their account is privated up. Thats not new and has been around for a long time.
    MisstreeGB
  • RE: Major permissions bug hits Facebook 'Happening Now' new feature

    "This is the second privacy related issue Facebook has (and will have to) deal with in the past week"

    Went from twice a month to twice a week, eh? I barely use the service anymore. If it weren't for most of my family being on it, I'd leave in a heartbeat. I don't play any Facebook games anymore, and I barely comment at all. Not worth it, to be honest.
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    • RE: Major permissions bug hits Facebook 'Happening Now' new feature

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  • I hate it.

    If I wanted a Twitter following, I would join Twitter. I don't want every comment, every like of mine to be instantly posted and relayed to every friend (& their friends) I know. Or don't know. There is no real option to opt out - I now don't want to comment or "like" anything. Where do I formally give feedback to Facebook? Ooops! They forgot that option too....
    Sunnypatch
  • Tired of Facebook's, always changing security settings

    Dump Em,<br><br>Facebook constantly does something that adds huge security risks to each person.<br><br>Facebook is trying hard to make a "business model" out of Facebook.....all by trying to open you up to marketer's, while also opening you up to scammers, and cybercriminals<br><br><br>Dump this Piece of C*rap
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  • RE: Major permissions bug hits Facebook 'Happening Now' new feature

    Then don't use Facebook.
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    • RE: Major permissions bug hits Facebook 'Happening Now' new feature

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  • RE: Major permissions bug hits Facebook 'Happening Now' new feature

    There seems to be another bug. The screen shot you have shows the News Feed with Happening Now has the Top News and Most Recent filter. As one of the poor victims of this test, mine does not! I hope FB fixes this soon, as I rely on those filters a great deal.
    mercurie
  • Again?

    A similar bug was around when FB first started. It's been nearly 7 years now, time to wake up peeps.
    Yoda1999
    • RE: Major permissions bug hits Facebook 'Happening Now' new feature

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  • RE: Major permissions bug hits Facebook 'Happening Now' new feature

    I absolutely HATE the "Happening Now" sidebar. It is annoying, intrusive, and just plain frustrating. I don't want people to see that I've opened up Farmville right at that moment, nor do I care to see who is playing (insert random game here) updating WHILE I'm trying to play Farmville. When I'm looking at my news feed, I don't want yet another feed going on with all sorts of useless info being posted constantly. This has also screwed up my "Game Requests page", which no longer shows any game-related wall posts.
    Ladyjanet
  • RE: Major permissions bug hits Facebook 'Happening Now' new feature

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  • RE: Major permissions bug hits Facebook 'Happening Now' new feature

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  • RE: Major permissions bug hits Facebook 'Happening Now' new feature

    ???Say a user???s photos are viewable to friends only, and this user is not in my friends list. If a friend of mine comments on the photo of that user, I can see it from the ???Happening Now??? feed.??? From last few days face book is making changes on regular basis and introducing new features about security of user to make his user more secure. <a href="http://www.mtbc.com">Medical Billing Service</a> - <a href="http://www.mtbc.com/cchit-emr.aspx">EMR</a>
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  • Introduction of Features

    ???We are currently testing a feature within the news feed that gives people the ability to see what their friends are commenting on and liking, as these actions are being taken on Facebook.

    This test includes a small percentage of Facebook users, just a fraction of a percent. In the coming weeks, as we learn more from this test, we???ll keep making improvements and may expand it to more people.??? Face Book is taking some good moves to secure his user data and profile which is very appreciative and positive move to make social networking more secure and popular. <a href="http://www.haqhomes.com">Florida Vacation Rentals</a> - <a href="http://www.haqhomes.com">Kissimmee Vacation Rentals</a>
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