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Facebook Denies Leak of Users' Private Messages 63

Posted by samzenpus
from the like-a-sieve dept.
silentbrad writes "The CBC (among others) reports: "A Facebook spokesperson is denying reports that private messages sent by users on the social networking site have become public. The purported glitch began generating attention Monday after French newspaper Metro reported that private messages dating from 2007 to 2009 had become accessible to friends and acquaintances on their profile pages. Other newspapers across the country began reporting similar incidences, citing reports from the site's users. The issue may be related to Facebook moving to its Timeline layout worldwide. ... The company issued a statement in response, saying: 'A small number of users raised concerns after what they 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.' TechCrunch.com wrote that there was no evidence the messages in question had been private, and posted an explanation from a company spokesperson. '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.]'"
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Facebook Denies Leak of Users' Private Messages

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  • by Anonymous Coward

    I learn something every day here at slashdot !!

  • by grrrl (110084) on Thursday September 27, 2012 @05:40AM (#41475495)

    funny how our memories are so short - Facebook has changed a LOT in the (relatively) few years it has been running. you did used to have conversations via wall post! there was nothing BUT a person's wall. these days there are far less wall posts on other people's walls because I find the new view doesn't really encourage it, and I find that I post less on other's walls because timeline puts them out in everyone else's view - "you know these people! look, they're talking!! it is relevant to you!!".

    most people won't scroll to the end of their own wall let alone anyone else's, but if you do you really can find out a LOT about people. even though Facebook keeps all your data I still try to delete a lot of my old wall when it is no longer relevant.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      I know for a fact that there were leaked messages. Private conversations between me and my girlfriend were posted to my wall when I scrolled far enough back in the history.

      • by Theophany (2519296) on Thursday September 27, 2012 @05:54AM (#41475547)
        Don't be silly, you don't have a girlfriend!
      • by grrrl (110084)

        That sucks!

        Probably best to go in and delete old private conversations as well.

        I'm hardly surprised this has happened given all the changes - they probably changed their scheme for categorising posts/messages/etc a million times. You'd have to think (hope?) it is far less likely that deleted posts/comments/messages suddenly re-appear... but no doubt one-day they will sell the whole lot to data miners before they go under...

        • by phorm (591458)

          Probably best to go in and delete old private conversations as well.

          You can't, at least on the mobile client.
          After this happened I decided to check out doing just that as a precaution. There was no "delete" button... just "archive"

    • The messages in question are old wall posts and their comments. These are already public (as much as your friends can read them, which is all that has happened). It's in the fucking stub.

      Pushing sensationalist bullshit headlines to generate clicks, eh? Gotta keep Dice sweet... Make that $20m look like a good deal.
      • by Culture20 (968837)
        This story is actually important. Maybe not for /. users, but I have friends who are still spreading the PM FUD on FB.
        • But people are commenting on the headline, not the post. The two aren't even similar. I suppose technically Facebook did deny posting private messages in public, but only by way of saying "You're all morons. These are wall posts. Lern2red."
    • by jitterman (987991)
      I probably haven't been active on FB for at least two years, and last week I deleted my account. The shift in the nature of privacy weighed heavily among the factors that lead me to do so.
  • by L4t3r4lu5 (1216702) on Thursday September 27, 2012 @05:46AM (#41475521)
    You keep using that word. I don't think it means what you think it means.
    • by Zouden (232738)

      I think most people have a pretty good idea what it means, thank you very much.
      Facebook has two main methods of communication between users. If I post on a friend's wall, I do it knowing that our mutual friends will see it - that's exactly the point. If I want a "private" conversation, I'll use the messaging feature. Those messages can only be seen by the recipients, as well as facebook's data-mining algorithms.

      It's exactly as private as using Gmail.

      • by djsmiley (752149)

        And if any friend likes this comment, their mutual friends can see it too..... and within 6 likes you've captured most of the planet in your "Mutual Friends" group.

        Congratulations on world wide fame :D

        • by Zouden (232738)

          That's not true. Likes and comments on a post don't change the privacy settings of that post. It's really not that complicated.

      • If you think anything on Facebook is "private" (between you, your friend, and Facebook) you're sorely mistaken. Selling other companies the profile of you based upon the content of those messages is how Facebook makes their money.

        I stand by my slightly-tongue-in-cheek-but-ultimately-correct statement.
        • by Zouden (232738)

          You say that Facebook users don't understand the meaning of the word "privacy", but that's plain incorrect. Most are fine with the knowledge that Facebook is using their data to fund the service, but are not fine with messages meant for one friend being seen by another friend. That's a type of "privacy" which is much more important to most people.

      • by jitterman (987991)
        I have to respectfully disagree here. I don't believe there is anything entirely private about FB (for that matter, I don't trust that I am guaranteed privacy using Gmail either, so interestingly your analogy holds - though in negative), even if that privacy was breached only from time to time via accidental release. And your information (I would not doubt in the least that this includes ALL of your information) is available to the highest commercial bidder. At least with e-mail/search system companies (be
  • by BlackTriangle (581416) on Thursday September 27, 2012 @05:55AM (#41475553)
    A protected, safe area, where you felt safe posting your phone number and home address for your fellow University students at your specific University. Now that the riff raff are allowed, it's no longer possible to have those safe semi-private conversations. People forget how protected and private it used to be, I think.
    • by CastrTroy (595695)
      While I agree that a lot has changed since it was only university students, I have to point out that my university has more people attending than there were people in my home town. I don't consider my entire university to be anything equivalent to a close knit community. There are 33,000 students currently at my old Alma mater. That's quite a few people.
  • This quote from Facebook themselves says everything you need to know about Facebook:

    > "...after what they believed to be private messages..."

  • However people regularly do, and this seems to show :)

    • by mcgrew (92797) *

      It forgot Yello There. The only part of his site still in existance is one page of it I had on my own site, now at archive.org. The rest of Yello There is gone forever. Most of my site is still there, but there is almost as much missing as archived (I still have it on disk, offline).

      The internet does indeed forget.

  • And I did it within a system that:

    10) automatically treated direct messages as private; and
    20) had no mechanism to mark direct messages as private because;
    30 GOTO 10

    > > no evidence the messages in question had been private

    ahem.

    • by unk98 (1525843)
      Weren't "direct messages" in the early years of Facebook mostly wall-to-wall. Everyone else could see them; I recall reading quite a few conversations that should have been kept private (phone numbers, address, etc). A lot of users I knew back then did not know there was a difference between a user's inbox and their wall.
  • You may think they're private, but it's really FB resetting the privacy and having a default of no privacy.

    So if I'm a friend of person A and person B and both have not SPECIFICALLY disabled my ability to see them and I enable viewing all from both, I get to see what person A says to person B.

    Maybe if FB wasn't so p3rv3 this wouldn't be an issue. Like if they respected privacy.

    They're already selling your "private message" content to advertisers to allow them to serve you ads.

    It's possible it's related to e

    • by admdrew (782761)

      So if I'm a friend of person A and person B and both have not SPECIFICALLY disabled my ability to see them and I enable viewing all from both, I get to see what person A says to person B.

      FB messages != wall posts, and never have. Simple case of people not understanding a system they use.

      • not wall posts - messages - also happens when you get a group post

        • by admdrew (782761)

          So if I'm a friend of person A and person B and both have not SPECIFICALLY disabled my ability to see them and I enable viewing all from both, I get to see what person A says to person B.

          not wall posts - messages

          Facebook messages cannot be seen by anyone other than the sender and recipient(s). It has always been like that. Again, it's just people not understanding the difference between old wall posts (which weren't broadcasted to everyone, but were still visible if you viewed someone's wall) and actual me

          • You say it's a wall post, but do you actually have an account with both .ca and us attributes?
            Shows up in the middle left upper message slot, between fr and posts/activity.

            I think the problem may lie in multiple country permission groupings - Canada has stricter laws than we do in the US, for one thing, and the implementation may differ, causing interesting side effects for certain people.

            • by admdrew (782761)
              Your Facebook must be broken. The articles linked to this story correctly describe how it's working for everyone else.
              • Your Facebook must be broken. The articles linked to this story correctly describe how it's working for everyone else.

                Whatever. You probably have friends who are techie enough to disable the settings and not share stuff.

                Not my problem.

                • by admdrew (782761)
                  In a friendlier note, I also went to UW (assuming it's the same one).
                  • There are multiple UW. University of Wisconsin, University of Washington. I went to Capilano University (2 degrees) in North Vancouver, BC, brief stints in military colleges and local BC colleges, SFU, and Post grad at UW Seattle, as well as NSCC in Seattle and Oracle, Sybase, Access developer and DBA courses/certs and even wrote most of the Access 2.0 toolkit (too many people hard coding stuff that was better as packaged libraries) and some of the C menu systems that are public domain.

                    Now for an EE PhD fro

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Posting something on someone's Facebook wall is not a "private message".

  • Wait what, there was news about this back in January in Swedish media, where as Facebook representatives claimed that these were messages written directly to each others walls (I have facebook, and looking back, I would not talk openly about vomiting, personal issues or anything of that sort). I want to recall Facebook later claimed that the chat function from the beginning was not a real chat, but rather "minifeed" posts which were hidden from the wall (so an update of some sort showed these posts, if the
    • by HPXX (1189589)
      Also, sorry. Forgot to preview, that post looks like something that got ran over.
    • This isn't the same story. Can't possibly be; or if so, it's happened again, making it a new story. My private messages (not chat, not wall posts) were available on my historial timeline for anyone with permission to view me to access. This wasn't true before, and this has happened to everyone I know so far.

      • by HPXX (1189589)
        Doesn't facebook use private messages for chat (at least now)? Although this might indeed be a different issue since some people on the linked articles claims to see posts from 2012 aswell (this is something I can't see). It's just as bad though.
        • I'm not sure. I disabled chat as soon as I got that feature, so I don't know where the messages go. And that's one of the frustrating aspects of Facebook. Someone in another thread referred to the old Facebook as a walled garden, I suppose versus MySpace and the other social nets of that time. New features don't just appear for everyone at the same time. I had friends who had the "new" timeline before I did, and I had feature they didn't have. I have friends that have bugs that I don't have as well, includi

  • We deny that the data has been leaked by accident, it wasn't a leak it was a sale, you know.

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