I’ve seen hundreds of tweets and facebook updates that all say something like this:”Watch Out! Major Facebook glitch is showing your private messages from before 2009 in your Timeline!” Scary, right? Facebook makes yet another change that violates our privacy.
Except for one thing: It’s not true.
No, really. It’s not.
Here’s what a Facebook spokesperson told TechCrunch:
“Every report we’ve seen, we’ve gone back and checked. We haven’t seen one report that’s been confirmed [of a private message being exposed]. A lot of the confusion is because before 2009 there were no likes and no comments on wall posts. People went back and forth with wall posts instead of having a conversation [in the comments of single wall post.]”
If you don’t remember, prior to 2009 most Facebook pages were private and very few people were friends with each other, so there was an air of privacy to the pages that we really don’t have now. Now, I’ve had friends swear up and down that the things they are seeing on their pages WERE, in fact, private and are madly hiding and deleting those old posts that contained things like phone numbers (I have not found any private messages on my personal timeline, for the record). But every major social media researching site has investigated and reported that it is NOT true. The reason this issue has just now been noticed is that Facebook finally fully rolled out Timeline globally and completely.
The problem, truthfully, is the no one trusts Facebook. Business Insider puts it well:
You might think this is good news for Facebook, that this glitch does not exist. It is not. It’s terrible news.
If the glitch did exist, Facebook could simply write some code, stop the immediate issue, and deal with the PR mess. But you can’t fix a problem that doesn’t exist.
So Facebook is dealing with a PR mess without being able to stop the activity that is causing it because the activity that is causing it is nothing that users didn’t originally happily do themselves.
Meanwhile, the outrage is real, even if the problem is not. Perception is reality, and Facebook users perceive that Facebook is screwing them over.
Moral of the story, ultimately, is to go back and check your timeline for message that you don’t want to be viewed publicly. Facebook, sadly, has much to do when it comes to public relations.