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Ok spreading across the internet is a story that all of your private messages are now public. There is some truth to it and you should now review your timeline.

The big scary message reads:

*Your Private inbox messages are now visible for all to see***
All private messages from 2010 And earlier Are all visible On your Facebook wall!!! 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.....yikes! They look like wall posts .......they are not!!! There is an easy fix---When you're in your own timeline, Just click on the year on the right (2007,2008,2009) And on your timeline straight under that year on the right you'll see a box with a bunch of friends messages And a header that says 89 People have written on your timeline---Hover over the right until you see the pencil click and select hide from Timeline. Do that for each year!! These are NOT all wall posts, they are PRIVATE messages!!!!! REPOST And make sure your friends get on to this as you deleting the conversations on your end doesn't ensure that conversations are deleted completely!! Messages may still appear on your friends walls!!!
It almost sounds like one of those scary GOP conspiracy theories, ones that your Aunt Edna posts telling you that President Obama was going to take guns away from shooting contestants at the Olympics. There is of course a difference,  there are not many spelling mistakes and capital letters appear in the right place. Notice the absence of exclamation marks !!!!111!!!! etc

On looking into this further - no actual instant messages are revealed but what you thought may have been private wall posts set only for a user or group may very well be visible. This could get people sacked, divorced, or some other serious consequence.  

If you are a long term facebook user your early pre 2010 privacy settings will have changed a lot and they have been reset a number of times by facebook updates since then.

Facebook has denied that people can see other peoples private messages. This is true for facebook,wall messages and instant messages have always been different. For users, it is only true to some extent. In the not so recent past people used to instant message each other by direct wall posts, which they restricted at the time to the other party. Some still do this.  Those restrictions have been reset a number of times. So what you may have thought are private messages are now available for your boyfriend, girlfriend, boss, wife, husband, etc to see.

To solve follow the squiggle

This part of the scary message is actually correct

When you're in your own timeline, Just click on the year on the right (2007,2008,2009) And on your timeline straight under that year on the right you'll see a box with a bunch of friends messages And a header that says xx People have written on your timeline---Hover over the right until you see the pencil click and select hide from Timeline.
Do that for each year, especially the early years, which may be grouped as 2000's as your facebook usage was very likely to be different to now.

Now, we all accept Facebook is a genius idea, a  company built on selling private information. Details of your hobbies, your pictures, your friends, your friends of friends are all traded so you can play a game less advanced than those that run on aCommodore 64era computer or get a birthday reminder. No-one should be surprised by this. Wall posts were only ever sort of private. Facebook announced the roll out of the time-line version. This was coming.

The lesson, an old one to reaffirm this simple message - be careful what you post online.

Wed Oct 03, 2012 at 11:29 AM PT: To the two who claimed this was false, I have already addressed the difference between instant messages and previously what was considered a private wall post becoming available.

Privacy settings on facebook have changed considerably from 2008 and the introduction of the timeline makes available wall posts that people actually treated as IMs.

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Comment Preferences

  •  I just don't like the creepiness that is (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Lujane, kurt

    Facebook.  A year or so ago I joined just so I could participate in a private, local political group.  I did my best to set all my settings to what seemed the maximum privacy.  I have never, ever posted anything on my "wall."

    But it's been obvious for a long time that everybody in the world can see I've got a page, and I get join requests, pokes, messages every day.  For more than six months I've just ignored all of them, no doubt pissing some people off.  I don't think I've logged on to Facebook in that last four or five months.

    Today I got a call from an acquaintance wishing me a Happy Birthday.  She is not my "friend" on Facebook.  She got some kind of notice from Facebook.  How is that possible?

    •  You haven't changed any of the privacy settings on (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      divineorder, grover, DruidQueen, Lujane

      FB. You are wide open for the world to see. That's how that happens.

      "Mitt Romney looks like the CEO who fires you, then goes to the Country Club and laughs about it with his friends." ~ Thomas Roberts MSNBC

      by second gen on Tue Oct 02, 2012 at 05:16:44 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  This is probably stupid, but I don't (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        second gen, Lujane

        understand what you mean.  Could you please explain a little more?

        I thought Facebook promised when I signed up that they would not share my date of birth.

        •  If you click on your profile, then (5+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          grover, Timaeus, DruidQueen, Lujane, grollen

          click on "Born on" under your profile picture, it will take you to a place to edit your basic info. You have a selector for your birthdate that allows you to show your entire birthday, show only the day and month, and don't show it at all. You need to change that.

          "Mitt Romney looks like the CEO who fires you, then goes to the Country Club and laughs about it with his friends." ~ Thomas Roberts MSNBC

          by second gen on Tue Oct 02, 2012 at 05:24:59 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  How is that possible? (6+ / 0-)

      Because your life is for sale, and you don't get the proceeds.

      Every bit of intel that you generate is being hoovered up, stored, and sold over and over again. Membership cards that track your purchases, web pages searches and visits, sick days, movie rentals, cell phone usage, traffic movement patterns, you name it. It all goes into databases and out to the manipulators.

      Privacy is dead. Long live the era of the goldfish bowl - where the audience is eternal, and the performers are us, but we don't get a share of the house take.

  •  This is FALSE (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Bill Roberts, Lujane, erratic

    "Mitt Romney looks like the CEO who fires you, then goes to the Country Club and laughs about it with his friends." ~ Thomas Roberts MSNBC

    by second gen on Tue Oct 02, 2012 at 05:12:54 PM PDT

    •  I am HRing the Tip jar to get the diarists (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      grover, Lujane

      attention to this being false. I will remove the HR when corrected or deleted.

      I'm not a huge fan of FB, but spreading false scares makes the true problems get lost.

      "Mitt Romney looks like the CEO who fires you, then goes to the Country Club and laughs about it with his friends." ~ Thomas Roberts MSNBC

      by second gen on Tue Oct 02, 2012 at 05:15:50 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  The Snopes article seems entirely consistent (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      kurt, MGross, The BigotBasher

      with the diarist's claim:

      NBC's Tech team also found that the rumor was fostered by users' mistaking older wall posts for private messages:
      What's showing up are not one-to-one messages, but old wall posts users made way back when.

      The wall posts are appearing on Facebook's Timeline, which shows your Facebook information on a year-by-year basis. Timeline, not beloved by everyone, started being rolled out to all of Facebook's 955 milllion users worldwide in recent weeks by the social network.

      --http://www.snopes.com/...

      There is some room for dispute as to whether the privacy settings on old wall posts have been changed by Facebook (rather than our understanding of them having changed, as NBC assumes), but Snopes didn't really look into that.  Personally, I don't have any difficulty believing that such involuntary changes have occurred, whether due to actual malice on Facebook's part or due to their negligence-celebrating "move fast and break things" ethos.

      •  That's because it was changed. (0+ / 0-)

        However, the tone of the diary is still "scary" and implies things that are not true.

        There are constantly "Rumors" going around that make claims about FB that aren't true. Just like people used to freak out when they got an email that claimed hoax viruses, these rumors should be squashed when circulated, so that people will get TRUE information not bogus rumors that cause them to delete everything, or even causes them to go into their accounts and change things that might actually make it worse.

        For instance, there was a hoax going around that if you had "Comments and likes" checked for your friends, EVERYONE would see what they commented on. It was suggested that you uncheck those things. Doing so only hid it from YOU. So you were unable to connect with your friends in the way FB was designed to do.

        "Mitt Romney looks like the CEO who fires you, then goes to the Country Club and laughs about it with his friends." ~ Thomas Roberts MSNBC

        by second gen on Wed Oct 03, 2012 at 06:48:21 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  It is not false and I addressed the difference. (0+ / 0-)

      What is false is the claim that your instant messages are now available. That is not correct.

      This is true for facebook,wall messages and instant messages have always been different. For users, it is only true to some extent. In the not so recent past people used to instant message each other by direct wall posts, which they restricted at the time to the other party. Some still do this.  Those restrictions have been reset a number of times. So what you may have thought are private messages are now available for your boyfriend, girlfriend, boss, wife, husband, etc to see.
  •  blech (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    kurt, The BigotBasher

    this is the first notice i'd seen and when i went over to FB, indeed it was so.  all my private messages public.  not that i have anything sensitive to hide, but damn.  that is just wrong.  rather than go one by one, i just hid all friend's posts on my timeline from 2010 back.  i really hate FB sometimes.  but it does make it easy to manage my far-flung friendship and family networks which literally span the globe.  guess i'll just have to continue to pare down how much and how i use it.

    •  Those are not private messages. Those are (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      grover, DruidQueen, Lujane

      posts that OTHER's posted to your wall. READ them. Click on them, you will see they are just posts. Nothing nefarious.

      "Mitt Romney looks like the CEO who fires you, then goes to the Country Club and laughs about it with his friends." ~ Thomas Roberts MSNBC

      by second gen on Tue Oct 02, 2012 at 05:19:28 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  And these have always been public (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        second gen, Lujane, MGross

        -- not public as in "open to the whole world, but public as in available for mutual friends to see.

        If you have a lot of disconnected FB friends, you may not have realized this. If your FB friends are a large interconnected web, then it should be obvious.   I post a note on a friend's wall and two other mutual friends can have a whole conversation about my note before the original friend every sees it.

        Completely different than private messages.  

        © grover


        So if you get hit by a bus tonight, would you be satisfied with how you spent today, your last day on earth? Live like tomorrow is never guaranteed, because it's not. -- Me.

        by grover on Tue Oct 02, 2012 at 05:32:36 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  scanning through the messages (4+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          second gen, Lujane, kurt, The BigotBasher

          from 2008, some of them sure struck me as things i thought i remember talking about with those particular folks via private message, but i could be wrong.  :)  I had originally locked down my FB profile with the most stringent privacy settings available.  But FB keeps changing the rules and defaults, so who knows.  In any case, I don't feel bad for having mass hidden all the posts on my wall for the past few years.  Probably should have done so when FB forced me to the idiotic "timeline" anyways.  HATE it.

          •  I did the same thing. But if you click on a (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            mali muso, Lujane

            specific message, you'll see that it is on your timeline, not in your private messages. Sometimes, there are even other people that have commented on that post.

            "Mitt Romney looks like the CEO who fires you, then goes to the Country Club and laughs about it with his friends." ~ Thomas Roberts MSNBC

            by second gen on Tue Oct 02, 2012 at 05:41:49 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

    •  If you're really unhappy about this, you should (7+ / 0-)

      probably delete stuff off your timeline and not just "hide" it.

      FB changes terms of service all the time. What's hidden this week may not be hidden next week. FB is giving us a handy little service for free. By now we all know that it changes constantly.

      Options are:
      1. Don't use it.
      2. Use it with a certain level of paranoia
      3. Use it freely and don't expect any privacy.

      I opt for #2.  I don't give any company my real birthday, for example, unless they ABSOLUTELY need it (like an insurance company that I'm buying a product from).  Why in the world would I give FB or Yahoo my birthday? Why do they need it? They don't.  Just because someone asks for it doesn't mean we have to provide it.

      I post very little personal info on my FB page and nothing I'd worry about an employer, my parents or the government seeing.

      © grover


      So if you get hit by a bus tonight, would you be satisfied with how you spent today, your last day on earth? Live like tomorrow is never guaranteed, because it's not. -- Me.

      by grover on Tue Oct 02, 2012 at 05:39:25 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Nothing on Facebook is even your own. (5+ / 0-)

    Take a close look at your user agreement; you'll discover that it's not just "selling your private information" that FB is doing, they basically claim ownership of everything you post to your FB account, no matter what it is. And you can forget about deleting any information or even your account; regardless of what FB may tell you, they do not delete anything, they just hide it from your eyes (but not from themselves or from whomever they want to sell it to.) FB is and has always been a scam to extract every cent possible from its users regardless of their wishes, their privacy or their rights.

    Strategy without tactics is the slowest route to victory, tactics without strategy is the noise before defeat. Sun Tzu The Art of War

    by Stwriley on Tue Oct 02, 2012 at 05:33:27 PM PDT

  •  Why use FB (0+ / 0-)

    It's crap anyway.

    •  This kind of comment kills me. (5+ / 0-)

      FB is a tool. It's as useful or insidious as people let it be.

      Do you have a cell phone? It can be used to track you. Smart phone? Oh, then you're giving away all sorts of info. Have you downloaded "free" apps? Then you're probably giving away even more very personal info than many FB users are providing to FB.. and often to sketchy companies than you may know little about. At least California and Congress keep a pretty close eye on FB. It's a big company with a lot of users, so it attracts a lot of attention. But the little companies that "give away" or sell $1.00 apps? do you read all those EULAs?  Heh...

      You're on a internet forum right now. You assume Markos and his team are trustworthy AND competent. Do you use Google? Google stalks you across the internet. If you use its other applications, like gmail and picasa, now it has all sorts of very personal information on you, like your contacts, photos (did you tag your photos? now it has photos of your friends), etc. Use google maps? Now it knows where you live, where you go.  

      THAT is a nice little creepy very  thorough profile of you --complete with more info about you than probably even your parents or your spouse knows --available to the highest bidder.

      FB is a  tool.

      The key is knowing what the heck each of these companies is doing.  And I choose to spread some of my info across each of the corporations so that none have a complete profile of who I am. It's not perfect. But online privacy doesn't exist. So I prefer to diversify: one company for email, one for social media, one for browsing, one for maps, etc.. and I stay the hell away from companies that offer "convenient" services that I don't need like Pandora because they help other companies aggregate data.

      © grover


      So if you get hit by a bus tonight, would you be satisfied with how you spent today, your last day on earth? Live like tomorrow is never guaranteed, because it's not. -- Me.

      by grover on Tue Oct 02, 2012 at 06:31:53 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  This is why (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    kurt, skywriter, The BigotBasher

    I don't use Facebook.  I don't have the time or inclination to keep track of "friends" let alone the rule changes that negate privacy settings.  As useful as these kind of social media have been in crises, they are just not that important to me.  

    Of course, I don't have family/grandchildren who are spread out all over the world.  There are lots of people my age who come to the computer lab at the senior center to get online and see their family's postings.  When they ask me for help, I have to tell them that I haven't a clue.  :-(

    -7.62, -7.28 "Hold fast to dreams, for if dreams die, life is a broken winged bird that cannot fly." -Langston Hughes

    by luckylizard on Tue Oct 02, 2012 at 08:47:26 PM PDT

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