Facebook inadvertently routed e-mails to the wrong addresses Wednesday night, a problem the social networking site said was quickly resolved, but not before the messages landed in the inboxes of strangers.
"Sure, bugs do occasionally slip through the cracks, but when it’s of this nature, that’s not acceptable," wrote Raj Dash on AllFacebook.com, a site that covers Facebook news.
"We’re still conducting our investigation, but would definitely like to use this opportunity to apologize for any inconvenience caused," said Nicky Jackson Colaco, Facebook spokeswoman.
Apologies over privacy gaffes have been familiar in recent weeks. Google apologized to its Gmail users for problems created, then fixed, in its new Buzz social media and networking program. Initially, Buzz automatically signed up Gmail users for Buzz and shared e-mail addresses without users' authority.
Last week, the Electronic Privacy Information Center filed a complaint against Google with the Federal Trade Commission, saying Buzz violates federal consumer protection law.
Colaco did not say how many users were affected by the Facebook e-mail botch, only that it was a "small number of users for a short period of time." The incident happened during a "our regular code push" when "a bug caused some misrouting" of e-mails.
It also caused some difficulty for users to access Facebook itself. The site, one of the most popular in the United States, has more than 400 million members worldwide.
"Our engineers diagnosed the problem moments after it began and worked diligently to get everything back in its rightful place," she said. "While they fixed the issue, affected users were not be able to access the site."
When e-mails are sent within the "walled garden" of Facebook, members receive those messages in their personal e-mail accounts as well.
Among those receiving the errant e-mails was Wall Street Journal online editor Zach Seward, who said he counted "128 private messages" that "flooded my inbox" between Wednesday night and Thursday morning.
"'Just wanted to let you know it seems like your always on my mind these days,' someone wrote to me last night on Facebook," according to Seward's post for WSJ.com.
"'Sorry if thats creepy but what can I say.' It was creepy, but mostly because the message wasn’t intended for me, and its sender is an Iowa high-school student whom I’ve never met."