Some Facebook users see old private messages on Timelines [Update]

If you haven't checked your Facebook Timeline today, you might want to surf over to that page right now. Reports are coming in that a number of Facebook users are seeing older private messages posted up on their public Timeline page.

TheNextWeb.com reports that one of its own team members in France has confirmed the problem and has even posted a screenshot of her Facebook page showing the old messages popping up in her Timeline. The messages seem to have been originally written between 2006 and 2009.

While this issue at first seems to be centered around French-based users of Facebook, it now appears to be occurring in other parts of the world, including the US, the UK and Canada. So far, there has been no official word from Facebook about this problem or how they plan to resolve this new issue.

If you are concerned about any private messages showing up in your own Timeline page for all to see, you can go into Facebook's Privacy Settings menu and then click on the Edit Settings section in the the Timeline and Tagging menu to make sure nothing is set to be seen publicly on your Timeline page.

Update: The BBC has quoted a Facebook spokesperson, claiming that the messages were in fact older wall posts that were always on the Timeline of the users. However, TheNextWeb.com has also updated its story, claiming that some Facebook users are seeing things such as addresses and phone numbers showing up on their Timelines that were only sent as private messages.

Source: TheNextWeb.com | Image via TheNextWeb.com

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I have lots of old wall posts showing - definitely not private messages... It's the old wall-to-wall messages.
I can just about remember some of the conversations!

I'm surprised there aren't a lot (OK, there are NONE) of posts with people posting proof. There's a lot of griping about the issue but I just finished FB stalking for an hour and everything I've found to be posted in the past has in fact been a wall post. I'm not doubting - but there's no proof being posted.

Tarrant64 said,
I'm surprised there aren't a lot (OK, there are NONE) of posts with people posting proof. There's a lot of griping about the issue but I just finished FB stalking for an hour and everything I've found to be posted in the past has in fact been a wall post. I'm not doubting - but there's no proof being posted.

This. No one posted a shot of both inbox and timeline post being exactly the same.

Woah, happening here too. Pretty intrusive to be honest.

EDIT. Scrolled Waaaaaayyyy back and these are actually just wall posts. Still weird they've popped up out of nowhere though.

John. said,
Woah, happening here too. Pretty intrusive to be honest.

Really? And I mean really really? Like, you can blur your inbox and exact same messages on timeline and screenshot the two? This is what no one has done yet

John. said,
Woah, happening here too. Pretty intrusive to be honest.

EDIT. Scrolled Waaaaaayyyy back and these are actually just wall posts. Still weird they've popped up out of nowhere though.


so you can't remember Facebook informing you about the privacy setting of your old wall posts? I believe you can still change it. Check the privacy setting.

Ya, it's no big deal... just mass confusion that's required the FBI to get involved. You know, just another Facebook glitch.

Facebook is staffed by some of the most incompetent engineers in the industry.

This is a viral scare, as usual, based on a few misunderstanding.
You'll not that FB have checked every reported case and they're all mistaken, old wall posts.

If there was a snip of evidence it'd be all over the net...but it's not.

Yes, it's been fully confirmed now, and TechCrunch have removed their initial opposition to Facebook's confirmation: http://techcrunch.com/2012/09/...elines-as-posted-by-friends.

So, it's good to see the update to this article, but the people who originally, erroneously reported this have a lot of explaining to do. People should ensure they're aware of the facts before they blame someone else or another company!

Facebook could do without this unfair, unjust bad publicity that is a result of user misconception. It's happened quite a few times before, in which Facebook haven't actually been in the wrong.

Calum said,
Yes, it's been fully confirmed now, and TechCrunch have removed their initial opposition to Facebook's confirmation: http://techcrunch.com/2012/09/...elines-as-posted-by-friends.

So, it's good to see the update to this article, but the people who originally, erroneously reported this have a lot of explaining to do. People should ensure they're aware of the facts before they blame someone else or another company!


Fully confirmed? What are you on about? The article has been updated to confirm more of the same. "Despite statements from Facebook to the contrary, users are still claiming to see private messages in their Timelines."

Facebook could do without this unfair, unjust bad publicity that is a result of user misconception. It's happened quite a few times before, in which Facebook haven't actually been in the wrong.

What's with the multiple copy/paste posts trying to imply people are incapable of telling apart a private post and a public wall post? Looking for a job at Facebook's damage control dept.?

Calum said,
Yes, it's been fully confirmed now, and TechCrunch have removed their initial opposition to Facebook's confirmation: http://techcrunch.com/2012/09/...elines-as-posted-by-friends.

So, it's good to see the update to this article, but the people who originally, erroneously reported this have a lot of explaining to do. People should ensure they're aware of the facts before they blame someone else or another company!

Facebook could do without this unfair, unjust bad publicity that is a result of user misconception. It's happened quite a few times before, in which Facebook haven't actually been in the wrong.

Please actually get your facts right.

Newinko said,

Fully confirmed? What are you on about? The article has been updated to confirm more of the same. "Despite statements from Facebook to the contrary, users are still claiming to see private messages in their Timelines."


What's with the multiple copy/paste posts trying to imply people are incapable of telling apart a private post and a public wall post? Looking for a job at Facebook's damage control dept.?


It appears you didn't read the entire article (including the update) or the title. Read it again, read Facebook's statement, then get back to me. We can't take the unverified claims of random Facebook users, who aren't providing proof, over what
Facebook say.

"The article has been updated to confirm more of the same." No. That's a ridiculous statement. Unverified claims that haven't been proven are not confirmations. A statement of confirmation from the company that is the subject of the story can be reasonably taken as confirmation, though. We should go on what Facebook say until we see proof of these currently unverified claims.

There's no "trying to imply." It's been pretty much proven that some people have mistaken wall posts for private messages, because some of the reporters reporting on this "issue" who stated they saw the problem have conceded defeat that they were actually wall posts (the TechCrunch reporter being one of them; she's since removed her screenshots and opposition to Facebook's confirmation).

Edited by Calum, Sep 24 2012, 9:37pm :

Toysoldier said,

Please actually get your facts right.


I did get my facts right. You clearly did not. Please see my reply to Newinko above.

It's unreasonable to take unverified claims of random Facebook users, who aren't providing proof, over what Facebook say. People jump on bandwagons and get confused about whether wall posts were actually private messages or not, especially due to the way some people communicate now compared to how they used to communicate. Also, many Facebook users have proven many times just how idiotic they can be.

The facts of the case are all in that TechCrunch article: The facts are, Facebook have confirmed that this did not happen, while users continue to make unverified claims without providing proof.

Calum said,
It appears you didn't read the entire article (including the update) or the title. Read it again, read Facebook's statement, then get back to me. We can't take the unverified claims of random Facebook users, who aren't providing proof, over what Facebook say.
I guess that here lies our disagreement. Until further notice, Facebook's statements are as "unverified" as are reports from users. Facebook has not provided any "proof" debunking users' reports; all they did was issue a statement that holds no more value than the combined reports of multiple users claiming the exact opposite. In fact, the many reports contain convincing evidence of what is being claimed, such as posts containing an inexplicable "I'm sending you this message" popping up on the Timeline.

A press release from a corporation cannot be held as truth.

Newinko said,
I guess that here lies our disagreement. Until further notice, Facebook's statements are as "unverified" as are reports from users. Facebook has not provided any "proof" debunking users' reports; all they did was issue a statement that holds no more value than the combined reports of multiple users claiming the exact opposite. In fact, the many reports contain convincing evidence of what is being claimed, such as posts containing an inexplicable "I'm sending you this message" popping up on the Timeline.

A press release from a corporation cannot be held as truth.


I definitely don't think we should just believe Facebook, but I do feel we should accept what Facebook say until any of these people making the claims provide actual proof.

An example of proof they could provide is a snippet of their message history (from their Inbox) that matches a post they see on their Timeline or a friend's Timeline, along with that post. But no one has done that yet.

It does appear we may have to agree to disagree on this one. I'm confident that this was just user confusion, especially as it originated in France and France is the country Facebook most recently rolled Timeline out to.

I am absolutely positive that the messages showing up are private facebook messages. This is ridiculous. Going to disable my facebook til this is fixed.

Went back and looked and saw a few personal things, but I don't remember if they were private messages or wall posts. Regardless not a big deal for me at least, as nothing seems too private, leading me to believe it was a wall post to begin with.

jamieakers said,
Yep, happening to me too.

Are you absolutely positive that those were private messages? Many users appear to be confusing wall posts with private messages; perhaps they don't remember that they actually wrote that message on the person's wall.

Calum said,

Are you absolutely positive that those were private messages? Many users appear to be confusing wall posts with private messages; perhaps they don't remember that they actually wrote that message on the person's wall.

I'm pretty sure I can tell the difference!!!

jamieakers said,

I'm pretty sure I can tell the difference!!!

The reason I asked is because a lot of people (even some technology reporters) who thought they could tell the difference found out they couldn't, due to the way they now communicate (now we can like and comment on wall posts) compared to when they used to communicate.

So far, there has been no proof of any of these claims. The best way to check is to look at your private message history with that individual, from your Inbox. If you see the message in there, it's a private message; if you don't, it will have been a wall post all along.

I'm not trying to sound condescending, and I'm not saying you're definitely wrong. I'm just mentioning this to everyone because I'm confident this issue does not exist, due to no one providing proof, Facebook denying it, it originating in France (the country that got Timeline most recently), and some people admitting that they were mistaking wall posts with private messages.

This hasn't been confirmed, and Facebook have denied it, stating that it is a case of people mistaking wall posts for private messages. Until it is confirmed, it's best to believe it's user confusion. If you believe you see private messages on people's Timelines, you can only be 100% sure those are private messages if you specifically remember sending them as private messages, and you're 100% certain of that. Some users have even confused these wall posts as private messages today, thinking they were sent as private messages even though they weren't.

Azies said,
Between 2009 and 2009?

I can confirm this is happening to me too btw.


Are you absolutely positive that those were private messages? Many users appear to be confusing wall posts with private messages; perhaps they don't remember that they actually wrote that message on the person's wall.

Calum said,

Are you absolutely positive that those were private messages? Many users appear to be confusing wall posts with private messages; perhaps they don't remember that they actually wrote that message on the person's wall.

One thing to check is whether they also show up in your message history.

Calum said,

Are you absolutely positive that those were private messages?

It's also possible that the message used to be private but they applied a setting that changed all older posts. I can't remember how or when but I was prompted a while back to update the settings of older posts and warned that it wasn't reversible.

theyarecomingforyou said,

It's also possible that the message used to be private but they applied a setting that changed all older posts. I can't remember how or when but I was prompted a while back to update the settings of older posts and warned that it wasn't reversible.


older posts != private messages.
There is no way for private messages to appear on the timeline. So I'm guessing this is more likely a case where those users confused their private messages to wall posts.

grayscale said,

older posts != private messages.
There is no way for private messages to appear on the timeline. So I'm guessing this is more likely a case where those users confused their private messages to wall posts.

"No way"? Surely it's nothing more than a database query... It's hardly impossible...

Calum said,

Are you absolutely positive that those were private messages? Many users appear to be confusing wall posts with private messages; perhaps they don't remember that they actually wrote that message on the person's wall.

Yup, they certainly are.