As if facebook needed another privacy scandal, a horrific one has broken this evening. Private facebook messages from 2007-09 have appeared on users' timelines as public posts. I know this because it has happened to me.
After reading about the issue on Twitter, I checked through my timeline and, merged in with the regular wall posts, were private messages that the senders most definitely did not intend to be public. I have hidden the posts now, so hopefully they can't still be seen, but it does not exactly instil trust in facebook.
My responses to the messages are presumably on their walls but as I am not still facebook friends with everyone I swapped messages with in those days I can't check. My partner has also checked and messages between us from 2007 that were definitely private, were public.
Facebook has denied this issue: "A small number of users raised concerns after what they mistakenly 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."
I can assure facebook that I have seen private messages on my wall and they were only intended for me.
As a crisis comms response, I would say this is weak because clearly they have not investigated enough and need to assure their customers that they will take care with their data.
Facebook is beyond HUGE now. Way past 700 million users, the amazing landmark of a billion users is no longer a pipe dream, but with that comes massive responsibility. They need to get to the bottom of this problem and fast otherwise they risk losing their huge market share to other social networks.
Above all they need to treat their users data with the utmost care and respect.
Some news stories written tonight on this issue: