Tonight I came across a Facebook post by Robert Scoble – a man I highly respect, especially after he stood through a very awkward introduction several years ago during which I babbled about how similar San Francisco is to Seattle.
He shared a nearly-damning blog post that almost debunked several articles that said that, despite mass hysteria, Facebook was NOT spontaneously posting your old private messages (circa 2010 and earlier) to your Timeline. Facebook users were suddenly finding that somewhat private conversations were reappearing on their Timelines, and were SURE these were private messages sent two or more years ago.
I never believed the hype, but today went to my Timeline and saw that some very personal conversations were now visible in my Timeline. I was sure these were once private messages, but they weren’t in my message inbox – and I didn’t bother to search my email.
I tweeted about it. I posted several Facebook updated. I created yet another round of mass hysteria, leading people down yet another path of “Yes, they ARE!”
The truth is – they aren’t.
Several years ago, I started using Nutshell Mail to send my daily Facebook digests. After seeing several people share the Mashable/TechCrunch/Snopes reports, I finally searched gmail with the full “private message” contents from my Timeline in 2010 to find these posts in my Nutshell Mail archives.
And lo and behold, they were actually wall posts.
Not a single thing on my timeline was a ever a “direct message.”
Yet during the previous 2 hours, dozens of my followers and friends shared my warnings, convinced posts on their timelines were private messages too.
And then, Scoble just posted this on Facebook:
“In looking further at the messages on my timeline (that I’ve now hidden) they look private and intimate and that those wall messages from 2009 and 2010 are, indeed, troubling, because our usage of Facebook was different back then. Many people left “private style” messages on our walls because they assumed only that person would see those. Back then that was probably a safe assumption. Which is why I’ve hidden all messages done before 2011.”
And it’s true. We did. And we’ve changed.
And now we hate Facebook for reminding us. We hate Facebook for bringing up our past – a past that we publicly shared.
Yes, I was wrong. But you can’t hate Facebook for sharing what you shared, either.
And you absolutely can not hate a service that you continue to use despite any issues you have – but don’t even pay for – which is a whole other issue in itself.