Last Facebook outage exposed users’ images hidden information

Facebook suffered a massive outage in its suite of apps yesterday morning; According to website security audit specialists, this flaw provided social network users with certain details about Facebook’s machine learning system for sorting all the users’ content.

In addition to Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp services suffered several failures and interruptions, affecting content displayed, content upload time and the viewing of images posted by the users. Unable to upload images, Facebook displayed text boxes with tags showing information about the images, so it was possible to see how the social network interprets the content posted on each profile picture, status or history.

Website security audit experts say this practice is entirely dependent on Facebook’s object recognition system, regardless of whether users add descriptions to their posts. In many cases you can even appreciate the machine learning tool.

Introducing this object recognition mechanism in 2016, Facebook mentioned that it was part of the platform’s effort to become more inclusive with visually handicapped users in 2016. Most of these tags seem common (example: This photo may contain cars, dogs, cats, etc.), although they may sometimes seem unusual to users due to the detailed descriptions they provide about where the photograph was taken or the expressions of those who appear in the images.

“We are aware that some users are experiencing problems trying to post or send images, videos, among other files via Instagram, WhatsApp and Facebook,” a company statement mentioned. “We deeply regret the inconvenience and assure our users that the services will be restored as soon as possible.”

It is still unknown what really happened on Facebook. According to specialists on website security audit of the International Institute of Cyber Security (IICS) the company began working on the incident around noon yesterday and, around 6 p.m. all services had already been restored to their maximum capacities.

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