Facebook Private Messages are appearing on your Timeline!

Well, not quite. From the looks of it, the whole story is a bit more complicated and serves as a nice illustration of the short-term memory of consumers and how that plays with unvalidated assumptions. Be aware when you change user experiences that people will have made up reasons (that may or may not be true) to explain particular application behaviors. When an old assumption that was not correct is illuminated as such, and there is no pre-emptive information sharing about it, people will be confused and upset.

Update: Facebook Confirms No Private Messages Appearing On Timeline. They’re Old Wall Posts.

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. A spokesperson told Constine:

“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 [in the comments of single wall post.]“

Facebook privacy scare illuminates the evolution of online conversation

Facebook users worldwide today are claiming that private messages sent in 2008 and 2009 are now publicly viewable on their Timeline profile pages. A news story about the issue was first posted by Metro France, and was afterward picked up by sites like The Next Web and TechCrunch.

Facebook said to The Verge:

“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.”

– Randall Noval

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