Want to view who your friends are chatting with or who has requested them as friends? A new privacy loophole made it possible to do exactly that. It’s a major privacy flaw and it has resulted in Facebook Chat being shut down. The error comes at a time that Facebook is under increasing pressure to empower Facebook users through transparent privacy settings.
This morning we were alerted to a bug that enabled users to view their friends’ active chat sessions as well as any of their incoming friend requests. While the friend requests bug has been resolved, users were able to access friend requests as well as chat by using the view as privacy feature which lets users see how their profile looks to specific friends.
We held off on publishing the flaw initially as we didn’t want to expose the problem, but Facebook has since shut down chat as a response and has fixed the friend requests bug. My guess is that this problem will be resolved by later in the day, but we’ve already many complaints from users who are distressed about not having access to chat. Most distressed users however do not realize that it was shut down for their own protection.