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Facebook glitch exposes private videos

A bug made titles, thumbnails, and descriptions of videos supposedly shared only with designated friends available to all one's friends. Hi, mom!

Just as our friends at The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal are reporting about a start-up that rats you out to potential employers based on your drunken or otherwise ill-advised social-media posts, our pals at TechCrunch have gotten a tip about another Facebook privacy burp.

And if you're prone to posting nekkid Jedi videos of yourself (we know you Comic-Con types), it could be a bit embarrassing.

True, the glitch wouldn't likely have affected your job prospects, unless you'd friended your maybe-new boss, but it could have scandalized grandma or junior.

As TechCrunch's Jason Kincaid reports, the glitch had to do with restricted-access settings for videos posted to Facebook and shared with supposedly designated friends.

It seems that the titles, thumbnails, and descriptions for videos were mistakenly visible to all of a user's friends, regardless of which had been granted access to the clips. And a list of people tagged in each clip was visible as well.

The videos themselves weren't watchable by all, but sometimes--as Kincaid rightly points out--a thumbnail can be worth a thousand naughty words (as can a title or description of considerably fewer). We'll leave it to you to imagine the horrifying shared-with-dorm-buds, spied-by-mom scenarios. (We hope all you have to do is imagine them. If not, you have our sincere sympathies.)

Of course, it's not the first time something people thought was private on Facebook really wasn't. After all, the company has a way of changing privacy policies without telling, or of quietly adding new privacy-related features on an opt-out basis, leaving users to scramble to change their settings once the news hits the fan.

TechCrunch's Kincaid reports that Facebook says the glitch has been fixed and that it existed, in Kincaid's words, for "just over a week." That's about the time it seems to take the ostensibly privacy-conscious Facebook rival Google+ to acquire yet another 7 million or so new members. (Ouch.)

Again, the Facebook glitch applied to friends only, so strangers couldn't get in on the action. Still, if you're thinking of looking for a job anytime in the future (or showing up to a family reunion), you might not want to trust privacy settings to, um, cover your tail in regard to raunchy posts. (And that sort of thing may well be the case with Google+ too, if what some see as that service's recent mishandling of user monikers is any indication.)

You could, we suppose, throw privacy to the wind and post that nekkid Jedi clip on YouTube. Who knows? It might go viral and land you not just a job but a whole new career. May the Force be with you.