Facebook privacy fears Timeline trash or French farce?

September 26, 2012 8:19 am

French Facebook (NASDAQ:FB) users—and others around the world—complain that private messages are appearing on their walls. Zut alors! Is this a privacy faux pas, or just a mass misunderstanding?
In IT Blogwatch, bloggers try to get to bottom of it.
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Jaikumar Vijayan has the 411:

Users reported seeing their private messages…in Facebook’s Timeline view. … [They saw] their older private messages suddenly viewable to others. … The issue has surfaced in the U.S. and elsewhere, but it does not appear to affect all Facebook users.

A Facebook spokeswoman today downplayed the reports.  MORE

Colleen Taylor was one of the first to report this issue:

…it appeared that private messages written in 2009 and earlier were showing up on viewable Timelines. … Reports of this supposed issue were first published in French newspapers such as Le Monde, Le Matin and Metro France.

[It’s] hard to remember the way Facebook worked…back in the day. …people would have conversations by exchanging wall posts, and any one taken out of context might seem like a private message. … Facebook felt like a different, cozier place four years ago.  MORE

Meghan Kelly expands on that theme:

The old wall posts in question seem random and disjointed in users’ Timelines because…Facebook didn’t support threaded comments. … People simply went back and forth between walls, responding to their various friends. … Because of this the wall posts today look more like messages than they do a public conversation.

But this really brings to light a deeper issue that just about everyone has with the Internet: we don’t know what’s on it. …go read your messages. … You’ll discover the embarrassing, personal, sensitive, and private information you have saved there.  MORE

Nothing to see here? Emil Protalinski ain’t so sure:

Facebook has denied the claims, saying [they’re] old Wall posts, but readers are saying otherwise. …readers all over the world [are] saying private messages have appeared on their Timeline.

“Facebook is satisfied that there has been no breach of user privacy,” a Facebook spokesperson said. …readers are finding Facebook’s statement hard to believe.  MORE

Meanwhile, Adrian Chen snarks it up, natch:

So it could be a case of some people looking back at their old embarrassing public wall posts and mistakenly assuming they must have been private. … [Or] maybe you were really just that lame.

But it’s unclear if Facebook’s explanation stacks up. … We’ll have to wait to see if a massive spate of divorces occur in the next few days. … For now, you may want to hide your Facebook Timeline posts completely, just to be safe.  MORE

 

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