Loophole In Facebook Privacy Policy Unintentionally Outs LGBT Students

Despite placing privacy controls on their personal information, University of Texas-Austin students Bobbi Duncan and Taylor McCormick were outed when the head of the LGBT choir added them to its Facebook group.

The Wall Street Journal reports (via Think Progress):

The president of the chorus, a student organization at the University of Texas campus here, had added Ms. Duncan and Mr. McCormick to the choir’s Facebook group. The president didn’t know the software would automatically tell their Facebook friends that they were now members of the chorus.

The two students were casualties of a privacy loophole on Facebook—the fact that anyone can be added to a group by a friend without their approval. As a result, the two lost control over their secrets, even though both were sophisticated users who had attempted to use Facebook’s privacy settings to shield some of their activities from their parents.

As a result of her outing, Duncan’s father “left vitriolic messages on her phone, demanding she renounce same-sex relationships, she says, and threatening to sever family ties,” while McCormack’s father “didn’t talk to his son for three weeks.”

Facebook is currently trying to make its privacy policies clearer to LGBT users, but once Big Brother’s read your diary, he’s bound to go blabbing to all his friends.

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  • 2eo

    Facebook’s own API features allow the copying of all members complete information including their sign up E-Mail addresses, the IP addresses of all named connection points and all information no matter if the settings are set to “only me”.

  • iBLOW

    THIS is why I blocked all my family members on Facebook and set my twitter to private people always see something its not the company’sfault people just shouldn’t friend their parents on Facebook

  • Bascha

    I’m pretty sure the lesson to be learned here is to not even be friends with your parents on Facebook unless you are entirely open and honest with them, and don’t care what they see (which is rather rare). That, or block them from seeing ANYTHING on your profile other than pictures you post yourself. I have most of my family members who have added me on Facebook under a “Private” category where they can’t see most things, just in case.

  • Ms Urethra Franklin

    This “unintended” breach of privacy is the reason I do not use Facebook.
    To this day I am mocked a freak by my peers & family because I am not a member on Facebook

    My business is my own private business. I hate Facebook because I have 3 groups: family, friends, & work associates. I do not want any of my 3 worlds to collide together. That is my choice to keep aspects of my life closed off to others. So I know not to expect to maintain privacy on Facebook.

    Why do they do that shit and link everybody to everything?

  • Rockery

    Facebook needs to do something about that, it’s crazy. But why anyone has their family on Facebook is beyond me, none of my family are on my Facebook (my parents don’t even have an account) not that there is anything hide but still, you never know what you might do

  • viveutvivas

    Facebook is the buggiest application I have ever had the displeasure of using. hate the damn thing.

  • hyhybt

    Many people use Facebook to communicate with family.

    The problem isn’t that policies aren’t clear; the problem is that someone other than yourself can add you to a group without permission.

  • Sebizzar

    @Ms Urethra Franklin: Exactly, same here. The most annoying thing about facebook was how all my family/relatives wanted to add me (as mean as it sounds) but when it comes to this subject it’s totally understandable why we wouldn’t want to add them >.< Thankfully, I'm now out to my immediate family and they accept me, but when I had a facebook I wasn't so I feel for these kids. How sad of their parents to worsen the situation instead of supporting, hopefully there is better news for them soon…

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