Facebook appears to have a bug that is causing private messages users sent — some years ago — to appear on their public timeline.
Facebook users at The Huffington Post noticed the phenomenon on Monday morning. According to TechCrunch, the glitch affects messages from 2009 and earlier.
UPDATE II: Tech blog TechCrunch says it has run an analysis on claims Facebook users are seeing their private messages appearing on public pages, and says there is nothing to the claim:
Our Facebook specialist Josh Constine found that email receipts show allegedly exposed messages were in fact wall posts, and the posts do not appear in users’ Facebook Messages inbox. Facebook also says in no uncertain terms that there is absolutely no privacy bug. What people are seeing are old Wall postings, not private messages.
UPDATE: Facebook insists that users are mistaken to think private messages are showing in their profile timelines. A Facebook spokesperson told Gawker on Monday afternoon that users are confusing the wall-to-wall conversations they used to have in the early days of Facebook with private conversations, which became more popular in recent years.
“Every report we’ve seen, we’ve gone back and checked,” Gawker quoted the spokesperson as saying. “We haven’t seen one report that’s been confirmed [of a private message being exposed]. A lot of the confusion is because before 2008 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.]”
Facebook denied on Monday that there was a wide-spread security glitch. In comments emailed to The Huffington Post Canada, a Facebook spokesperson stated:
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.
However, Facebook users in North America and Europe were reporting instances of exposed private messages.
The messages appear in the “Friends” box in Facebook’s timeline. Ordinarily, the box would show publicly posted messages on a Facebook user’s wall for that year or month, but in some cases, users are seeing private messages appearing.
- Private Facebook Messages Are Showing Up On Some Users’ Public Timelines – Turns Out They Actually Were Wall Posts* (FB) (businessinsider.com)
- Facebook May Be Publishing Your Old Private Messages On Your Timeline Or You May Just Have Been Lamer Than You Remember [Privacy] (gawker.com)
- Facebook bug or security flaw? Older private messages appear in users’ timeline (nextlevelofnews.com)
- Facebook message rumour ‘false’ (bbc.co.uk)
- Facebook Users Report Seeing Old Private Messages Showing Up On Timelines (techcrunch.com)
- MESSAGE ON THE WALL: Facebook Denies Reports of Private Message Popping Up On Your Timeline [UPDATED] (betabeat.com)
- Facebook flooded with complaints after messages ‘bug’ (telegraph.co.uk)
- Facebook just made your private messages public – here’s what to do (macleans.ca)
- Facebook reveals users’ personal messages on public timeline (rawstory.com)
- Facebook users seeing private messages showing up on their Timelines (thenextweb.com)