Facebook sidestepped a privacy gaffe on Monday by fixing a flaw that
made it possible to snoop on private New Year's Eve messages sent using a
"Midnight Delivery" service.
Facebook took "Midnight Delivery"
offline temporarily to patch a vulnerability pointed out by
Britain-based blogger Jack Jenkins.
The new feature, which lets
people prepare digital messages in advance and have them automatically
delivered to Facebook friends the moment the year 2013 arrives, was back
in action Monday.
"I have just checked, the bug/oversight has now been fixed," Jenkins said in an update to his blog time-stamped 1435 GMT.
"I don't know how a site like Facebook can continue to take these kinds of risks."
outlined in his blog a way to get into Midnight Delivery messages by
tinkering with characters in URLs, essentially manipulating electronic
The privacy slip came less than a week after the
older sister of Facebook co-founder Mark Zuckerberg tripped on the
social network's privacy settings, landing in the midst of a debate
about "online etiquette."
Randi Zuckerberg, who launched a Silicon
Valley themed online reality show after quitting her job handling
Facebook public relations, kicked off the controversy after a family
photo intended for friends went public.
The picture showed Mark
Zuckerberg in a kitchen with family members dramatizing reactions to
messages sent with a freshly launched "Poke" feature at the
California-based online social network.
Poke lets people send messages that self-destruct in what is seen by many as a spin on popular smartphone application Snapchat.
Zuckerberg posted a copy of the family photo to Facebook for the eyes
of close friends only, but evidently it was also shared with friends of
those tagged in the picture due to privacy settings at the social
That meant the fun photo popped up in the news feed of
someone outside Randi Zuckerberg's circle, who then shared it on popular
messaging service Twitter.
From there, the photo went viral much to Randi Zuckerberg's chagrin.
etiquette always ask permission before posting a friend's photo
publicly," Mark Zuckerberg's elder sister said in a Christmas tweet.
"It's not just about privacy settings, it's about human decency."
comment sparked heated debate at Twitter and other online forums, where
a vocal contingent saw poetic justice in the Zuckerbergs being exposed
by the way the social network handles the privacy of users.