The 2000’s were a simpler era. There was no timeline, MySpace was still the social network of choice, and everything on Facebook wasn’t broadcast to the world. So when people started crying foul that Facebook was publishing private messages, they were misguided. Facebook’s timeline shows wall posts from 2009 and before, when many people used the wall feature to post messages they believed only the recipient would read.
TechCrunch first reported the “bug,” Monday. It’s been something that Facebook has had all along, but it came more into view with timeline, as it allows users to scroll through their profile by year. Facebook confirmed that these are not private messages, but simply evidence of a time when users posted to friends’ walls not knowing that later everything would become more public.
This is the point that Facebook Director of Engineering Andrew Bosworth made in a public post on his page:
In case there was any concern, these are just wall posts and not personal messages…people just forget how we used to use the wall!
Here’s Facebook’s take on the matter, as told to 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 [(n the comments of single wall post).
A small number of users raised concerns after what they mistakenly believed to be private messages appeared on their timeline. Our engineers investigated these reports and found that the messages were older wall posts that had always been visible on the users’ profile pages. Facebook is satisfied that there has been no breach of user privacy.
TechCrunch notes that this may have become a bigger issue today because of the global rollout of timeline. News outlets in France first noticed the old “private messages,” which were now a part of profiles.
Readers: Were you an early adopter of Facebook?
Image courtesy of TechCrunch.