Are Facebook private messages now visible for all to see? The answer is no

Posted By on Oct 2, 2012

Recently a generic Facebook status began to do the rounds and appear in a lot of peoples newsfeeds as many Facebook users feared the worst. That they’re private Facebook messages sent to other’s were beginning to appear publicly on the timelines of friends.

Dear Facebookers – Your private inbox messages are now visible for all to see, from 2010 and earlier! This could get VERY awkward, very quickly…this is a new change from Facebook as of yesterday. Don’t believe me? Read your timeline from those years…! They look like wall posts…..they are not!

There’s an easy fix–when you’re in your own timeline, just click on the year on the right (2007, 2008, 2009) and you’ll see a box with a bunch of friends’ messages and a header that says 89 people have written on so and so’s timeline–hover over the right until you see the pencil, click and select hide from timeline. Do that for each year. BOTH parties have to delete or it will show so post and tell your friends!

And if you’re my friend, please do this to keep my stuff private – thanks….

People frantically began checking their timelines to see if this worrying rumour was true by following the steps outlined in the status above

1. Click on the year on the right hand side of your timeline (say 2009)
2. Click on the box to see what messages are visible on your timeline

Timeline - 56 friends posted on Niall's Timeline.

Current Facebook timeline layout (Oct 2012)

To a lot of people it does appear unusual or even a bit like a stream of chat messages. It looks like usual private message are visible… Could it be true??

Facebook is denying any privacy breaches on an official level saying that “Private messages on Facebook are visible only to you and the person you messaged, and do not appear on your timeline” I have no reason to believe that Facebook would lie to it’s nearly 1 billion users and I am of the very strong opinion that this is not the case.

Another reason why these wall posts may appear to look unusual is that there is no activity associated with each individual post, no one has “commented” or “liked” the wall posts…

People forget that Facebook is evolving all the time

Rewind back to 2008 and 2009 when Facebook actually looked like this to you and me. As you can see there is no “like” button beacuse it didn’t exist then and there is no “comment” function on the wall posts either.

Facebook 2008 profile wall-to-wall communication

Facebook layout circa 2008-2009

Back then people used to communicate on Facebook by having “wall-to-wall” conversations whereby the only way to reply to someone’s wall post was to reply by writing on the other persons wall.

In 2009 facebook then introduced the “comment” feature so people could reply to a wall post by “commenting” rather than having a “wall-to-wall” conversation. People have now become so used to the “comment” and “like” function that they have forgotten that these are relatively recent additions to Facebook which in my opinion has caused most of the confusion.

So tell us, when you heard the news first did you frantically go looking through your timeline to see if it all your secret chats were exposed publicly on Facebook? I certainly did but my mind is at rest now and I hope your’s is too.

Finally this is a brand new blog so if you would like to hear more of the same follow me on twitter @niallspace or connect on linkedin. I would be delighted to hear your feedback so please comment below.

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