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Facebook patches security hole that exposed users' instant messages

May 5, 2010 | 11:04 am

Amid reports of a security breach that permitted some users to see other users’ instant messages and pending friend requests, Facebook said Wednesday it had disabled its chat service.

The incident, caused by a software bug, comes at an inopportune time for the popular social-networking service, which is facing complaints about how it handles users’ privacy.

The bug was in a feature that was supposed to help users maintain their privacy by allowing them to see how their profiles appeared to others. Users began reporting Wednesday that in viewing profiles, they also could see live chats.

This is not the first time users’ personal information has been exposed. Earlier this year, user e-mail addresses were accidentally revealed following a site update.

In a statement, Facebook said the incident lasted a short time and that it was working to restore chat access.

"Because of the bug, people could view friends’ chat messages and friend requests for a limited amount of time if they manipulated the 'preview my profile' feature in a specific way," the company said.

-- Jessica Guynn

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