Facebook security concerns had Finnish users deleting messages
The online social network company Facebook insists that private messages relayed through the service have not been leaked to outsiders. Facebook has told Helsingin Sanomat that some old items on subscribers’ walls have appeared on the new timeline feature.
Many Finnish Facebook users suspected on Monday that the privacy settings on the social network had failed.
There had been claims that inbox and chat messages that were supposed to be private had ended up on the public walls of Facebook profiles, making them accessible to anyone.
There were suspicions that the alleged security breach may have had something to do with the new Timeline feature that Facebook is introducing.
The warnings led many to delete old messages from Facebook.
Some people were so worried that they deleted their entire Facebook profiles.
On Monday evening Facebook announced that all of the reports that it had received from Finnish users about private messages being made public turned out to involve old wall entries that had always been open for all to see.
Jan Fredriksson, who is responsible for Facebook communications in Sweden and Finland, told Helsingin Sanomat that the reports have been studied in Dublin and at Facebook head offices in Palo Alto, California, “because the it is an extremely important matter for the company”.
The company says that the messages have always been public, but that Finnish users have started to pay more attention to them since the timeline feature was introduced.
“If the users had gone through their profiles all the way down to their old messages before the introduction of timeline, they would have seen these messages”, Fredriksson says.
Many Finnish users were amazed that there had been no reports from other countries about any similar problems.
The furore was sparked on Sunday afternoon when Kari Haakana, head of the internet services of the Finnish Broadcasting Company (YLE), warned on Facebook that private inbox messages had been found in the new Timeline.
Haakana had been shown screen grabs that appeared to prove the claims.
YLE’s Haakana now admits that he helped spark the furore – to some extent.
“It was nevertheless my point of view of a credible story which had a believable background.”
“I have not seen any clearly incontestable case in which messages that had been kept private had leaked from an inbox to the Timeline”, Haakana said on Monday.
“It is a matter of taste whether to call it a mistake or a feature, but if it surprises people in this way, the fault is with Facebook”, says IT expert Petteri Järvinen.
“Timeline has made it easy to see what has been happening along the way, possibly already in 2009.”
Facebook: Introducing timeline