Facebook row after users complain of messages 'bug'

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Facebook logoArmin Weigel/DPA/Press Association Images

Facebook users were on the warpath overnight, after claiming that private messages they sent between 2007 and 2009 were being published publicly on their profiles. They were outraged at the 'bug' that invaded their privacy.

It's yet another unwelcome privacy row for Facebook. What's odd about this one is that it's all a misunderstanding.


The rumours

Rumours of private messages appearing on public profiles started circulating last night. They started in France and spread across the world. And as each user went into their timeline to check very old posts, many more were convinced that private messages were out there for all to see.

Twitter and Facebook were both alive with people outraged that their privacy was being invaded.


Response

However, Facebook was swift to respond, denying the problem. It said that old messages were appearing on profiles, but that these weren't private messages, they were public ones. These had always been available for all to see - it's just that most people hadn't delved that far back in their timeline recently.

A spokesperson added: "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".

Facebook's director of engineering, Andrew Bosworth, made an announcement, saying: "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!," he said.

The site issued a statement, saying: "Facebook is satisfied that there has been no breach of user privacy."

Revealing

It's a timely reminder that it's worth taking the time to look through our profile and consider a spring clean of old messages we may have posted before we were so worried about privacy - perhaps before we entered the world of work, or before we were alive to the breadth of coverage a Facebook status update could achieve.

The world has changed a great deal in the last five years - and so have we. Now may be the time to check if the things we were saying and feeling back then really ought to be in the public domain now.

Meanwhile it goes to show the concern surrounding privacy and Facebook, and how its has to constantly fight for its reputation.

It was a depressing day all round for Facebook, after US publication Barron said the share was horribly overpriced and worth about $15. The shares fell just over 9% in a day to $20.79 - it's a far cry from the launch price of $38 a share. However, this fall was not linked to the rumours about privacy.

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