Facebook deny private messages are being published

by Dale Wright

Yesterday, Facebook users began to notice something odd while browsing their own profiles. Some of their messages from three years ago had started to appear publicly on their Facebook pages. Or, at least, that’s how it seemed.
Facebook

Although there’s some confusion about the issue, it seems that Facebook users are seeing messages sent via the Messaging system appearing as wall posts for all to see. But because the posts are so old, it’s difficult for anyone to conclusively say whether this is the case.

Facebook deny that there is anything wrong. In a statement to thenextweb.com, the company said that users had simply forgotten what they had posted and were mistaken: the posts in question were all old wall posts when they investigated the issue. Techcrunch says that users are simply not used to the Timeline format.

However, some posts do appear to be private messages, with personal information (such as telephone numbers) appearing, and conversations also seem to refer to the messaging system being used. In some cases, the now-public private messages contain sensitive chats about other people. It could be that we all use Facebook differently in 2012 than we did three years ago, but the Huffington Post reported that Facebook reps in France and Spain confirmed the bug privately.
Facebook Timeline

Until Facebook make another statement, users are checking their own Timelines just in case. This is fairly easy to do, and hiding the posts thankfully just takes a few seconds. On your own Facebook profile page, click a year, either on the right of the screen or using the drop-down list. On the right, you’ll see a list of messages posted to your wall in that year, which may or may not include private chats. If you want to hide these messages from your friends, just click the drop-down arrow to remove the box from your Timeline and repeat the process for each year.

Many users are reporting that private messages seem to appear around 2009, although it’s worth checking all years, just in case.

Some Facebook users are sceptical, and they’re backing up the company in saying that we’re all just forgetful – and perhaps a little more careful with privacy than we once were.