Richi Jennings

Facebook privacy fears: Timeline trash or French farce?

September 25, 2012 6:11 AM EDT

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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By Richi Jennings: Your humble blogwatcher curated these bloggy bits for your entertainment.

 
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.
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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.
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[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.
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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.
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“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.
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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