Facebook privacy: New questions after bug exposed more user information

For the second time in two months, a Facebook privacy bug compromised profiles. Oops.

After another Facebook privacy scare, should the social network tighten up its security?

Alright, Facebook, we get it – you're the most popular social network in the world (and at least twice, you've been the most popular site in America). You've got a lot of business to handle. A lot of moving parts to control. A lot of members to make happy. But is it too much to ask for you to tighten up Facebook privacy?

In March, a Facebook bug exposed the private email addresses of many users, and erased the functionality that allows users to hide some contact information. Facebook fans pointed out that this sort of thing seemed to be happening an awful lot, and Facebook apologized, and fixed the problem.

Today, several blogs reported the existence of a new bug – one that apparently allowed users to peruse their friends' private chat messages, and even see other users' pending friend requests. Facebook patched up this bug too, but not before news of the problem careened around the Web.

"We'd expect an abject apology from the company for accidentally exposing user information so often – if it didn't expose user information on purpose even more frequently," Valleywag's Ryan Tate wrote in a short – and exceedingly acerbic – blog post this afternoon.

As Mr. Tate hints, Facebook is already facing protest over a new Digg-like function, which will allow users to flag – or "like" – content they enjoy. Critics say Facebook newbies may not immediately realize how much of their personal information they are exposing with the "like" functionality.

"I'm disappointed that Facebook considers itself the broker of my personal information," one of our readers wrote last month, when we posted news of the Facebook update. "I used the site with the understanding that all of the info that I permitted to be viewed would be viewed within the site itself."

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