Why Facebook is confused: reposting public messages is still about privacy


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Facebook-PrivacyEveryone can learn from watching Facebook’s timeline of its own recent activity – whether it motivates you to change how you use Facebook is, of course, your choice. The latest? Facebook users this week began noticing old messages being automatically reposted as new on their timelines (the new layout forced as an upgrade on all users). A Facebook spokesperson said the following:

“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. – Facebook

Even if Facebook is correct and these re-posted messages from years ago were 100% public, why might these “mistaken users” still be upset? We at Abine know why, and so, most likely, do you: because privacy is more than a setting or a checkbox. Privacy often concerns what we expect others to be able to know about us at any given moment. We don’t want it decided for us by others to suddenly broadcast things we did or said years ago – even if they were once captured in public and are therefore available. This is about privacy. It is about information we expected to be consumed years ago by friends and friends of friends whom we trust. If we get to a point where information we’ve given out in public online becomes used in ways and at times we don’t expect, here’s what will happen:

We will stop doing lots of things in public online as freely, without worrying.

Facebook thinks differently (that’s why they’re confused by users concerns). They think we’ll keep commenting, sharing, and doing everything in public online; even if we’re shocked at how these things might come back to haunt us in unexpected ways later.

Facebook’s expectations are plain wrong.

They’re wrong because we all have established notions about what feels right to reveal about ourselves and what should be harder for others to discover. These notions are at the core of how we represent ourselves – both offline and online. If web sites like Facebook and many others that help us share and communicate don’t start understanding that tracking us in ways we don’t expect and using information we shared in ways we didn’t intend isn’t just “our mistake” – rather that it is truly their mistake – then they will, at the height of all their attempts to keep our attention, lose us as engaged users.

7 Replies to “Why Facebook is confused: reposting public messages is still about privacy”

  1. John S. says:

    I have noticed that Facebook is trying to send my posts Public instead of to Friends only. I am watching my messages more closely after this has happened a few times despite my settings.

  2. marco says:

    no hay que olvidar que desde sus inicios facebook se ha conducido asi, y no se si algun momento vaya a cambiar, facebook es socializar, en mi caso no comparto informacion, utilizo mas mns. Gracias abine!!!

  3. Vanessa says:

    I never have trusted Facebook so I don’t use it much.
    But I do use Do Not Track Plus. Thank you for all you do for us!

  4. carolynn (black) hester says:

    I have a few issues also with FB…. and thanks for the tips to help me with my settings, as like John S. commented despite the settings I created, other things were happening……. I love DNT+ I quite using google so much because of serious privacy invasion; have same issues with Yahoo, and my primary email has been screwed around with so much that I have since moved on…….

    Thanks for helping this novice gain some confidence….

  5. ashna says:

    Some body have send me nude image on facebook in my inbox. I want to report against him. Is this possible. If this is possible than what is process. Reply me please…….

    • Sarah Downey says:

      There’s nothing you can really do about someone sending you nude pictures unless the content of those pictures is illegal somehow (like child pornography or copyright infringement). Think of it as an interaction between 2 people–the sender and you, the recipient–and Facebook is just the messaging tool through which this is possible. And because it’s in a private message, not publicly posted on your wall, Facebook doesn’t have any reason to know about it. The most you can do is block and de-friend that person on Facebook to prevent them from sending you any more private messages.

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