Facebook is probing reappearance of users' never-posted videos

Users downloading their Facebook archive are discovering the social network kept videos they recorded but never published.

Steven Musil Night Editor / News
Steven Musil is the night news editor at CNET News. He's been hooked on tech since learning BASIC in the late '70s. When not cleaning up after his daughter and son, Steven can be found pedaling around the San Francisco Bay Area. Before joining CNET in 2000, Steven spent 10 years at various Bay Area newspapers.
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Steven Musil
2 min read

Facebook's data handling practices are coming under new scrutiny amid reports that users are discovering videos they recorded on the platform but never posted to the site.

Facebook has a feature that allows users to download every bit of content you've ever uploaded to the social-networking site, including status updates, search queries, photos and videos. Interest in the archive feature has increased since news broke earlier this month that a data analytics firm misused Facebook users' personal information during the 2016 US election.

When the sister of a New York magazine reporter downloaded her archive earlier this week, she found several years-old videos of her playing a flute in her bedroom. She recorded several takes on Facebook of her performance with the intention of posting one on a friend's Facebook wall.

Facebook's camera feature allowed users to record videos, preview them, and then either post or discard them.  She took a dozen takes before posting the final version. But when she downloaded her archive earlier this week, she discovered that the videos hadn't been deleted; Facebook had apparently saved each of the unposted clips.

Facebook confirmed it's looking into the matter.

"We've heard that when accessing their information from our Download Your Information tool, some people are seeing their old videos that do not appear on their profile or Activity Log," a Facebook representative told CNET in a statement. "We are investigating."

The re-emergence of videos once thought deleted is the latest revelation raising concerns about the social media giant's data privacy policies. Facebook disclosed earlier this month that information from 50 million of accounts on the social network was used without people's permission by Cambridge Analytica, a digital consultancy hired by the Trump presidential campaign.

Facebook found out about the infraction in 2015 but didn't inform the public. Instead, the company demanded that all the parties involved destroy the information. But now there are reports that not all the data was deleted.

Facebook users have also sued the company for allegedly violating their privacy by logging histories of their phone calls and text messages. The social-networking giant acknowledged it had been logging some Android users' call and text history, but noted it was with their permission.

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