#facebookfail: the fix for facebook’s private message breach

All week long, I’ve been hearing this rumor that facebook was suddenly publishing private messages onto people’s facebook walls instead of in the inbox. It seems there is some glich that caused all private messages prior to 2010 to revert to wall posts – meaning that anything you send someone else prior to 2010 is now posted on their wall instead of in their inbox. This sounded so preposterous to me that I ignored it. I am always wary of hoaxes about facebook, and this seems alarmist and insane. Until today, that is, when some people I respect started posting screenshots. I decided to do a little digging myself.

I clicked to my page and selected 2010, and sure enough, under “friends posted on Kristen's timeline”, I saw every private message I received in 2010, now on display for all the world to see. I went through 2009 and 2008 and found the same thing.

Is facebook displaying private messages on your timeline? Here's how to fix it. #facebookfail

I’m posting these for illustration (and hopefully no one minds since they aren’t very personal, but there WERE some things posted that were a bit mortifying). Most of these were supposed to be private.

Here’s the kicker: I was able to hide all of the private messages in a matter of 5 minutes (I’ll explain the fix below), but I cannot remove MY OWN private messages to others that are now posted on their own wall. They have to do that. So. . . I’m assuming my responses to all of these messages are now on display on the corresponding friend’s wall. Which, to be honest, is a big motivation for writing this post. Because, um, HEY FRIEND? How about you take a second and do this, too, so everything I said to you in private is not aired in public now? Yikes.

Here’s the fix:

Is facebook displaying private messages on your timeline? Here's how to fix it. #facebookfail

On the right-hand column of your profile page, select the year 2010. In the box where it shoes the messages that friends posted on your wall (and now, apparently, to your inbox), select HIDE FROM TIMELINE.  You will need to select each year you’ve been on facebook prior to 2010 and repeat this step.

I’m pretty appalled at this breach of privacy, especially since Huffington Post broke the story nearly a week ago. You’d think it would be fixed by now, but I would definitely encourage you to take the steps to do it yourself.

I’ve always disliked the private message feature on facebook. I’ve already got an overflowing inbox, and I’ve resented that it created yet another place I had to check for emails. I’ve been notoriously bad about responding to facebook messages, and always wished there was a way to just turn that feature off.  For the record, I will no longer correspond through facebook’s messaging system, so don’t bother! I am beyond annoyed that this has happened.

Anyways, stop reading this and go fix your facebook page! And then come back and tell me if they were displaying private messages on your page as well.

© Kristen Howerton 2012


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