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Have your Facebook private messages been made public?

Remember the private messages you were sending via Facebook between 2007-2009? No, me neither, but Facebook does and has kindly published them on your Facebook wall.

I didn’t believe it either when I saw a friend’s status update informing me of this, so even before checking my own timeline, I Huff Poed it and these claims were denied with Facebook explained that this was just people getting confused between private messages and wall posts, with conversations happening between walls during this time period as there were no comments boxes.

A Facebook rep also contacted CNET to deny the rumor that the Timeline was exposing private messages. “Every report we’ve seen, we’ve gone back and checked,” the spokesperson to CNET. “We haven’t seen one report that’s been confirmed. 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.” Source: Huffington Post

Smug as ever, I dutifully copied and pasted this link as a response to my friend’s status, right before she informed me that she had fallen victim too these public PMs.

I checked my own timeline from 2007 through to 2009 and sure enough the messages from other people seemed to be there. These could have been public all along actually, but some seemed a little too long or emaily in nature for me to think they had been posted on my wall.

Solving the problem

Anyway, there is a quick and easy way to solve the problem.

  • Simply use the links on the right of your timeline to find the affected years.
  • There will be a box saying how many people commented on your post that year as shown below.
  • Hover over the top right hand corner of this box and a pencil will appear.
  • Click this and select ‘hide from timeline’ and they will be hidden from your wall.
  • This will hide all posts from this year, but you can go back and unhide them once you’ve deleted the private messages or Facebook resolves the fault.
Facebook Private Messages and how to remove them from your timeline

I’ve already hidden my comments from 2007-09. 2010 is therefore just for illustrative purposes. I’m never deleted the comment about my eyelashes!

It’s probably a good idea to go through your timeline regardless of this bug though, just to make sure it’s clean of any unappealing, unsavoury or unwanted content.

This doesn’t bode well for Facebook trying to make Facebook email happen though, does it, almost regardless of whether this is a fault or not?


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