Facebook: private messages never appeared on timelines

Facebook is doing what it can to combat a particularly nasty rumor today, telling the BBC that private messages never appeared on public timelines like some users have claimed. Most of these users were from France, and say that private messages sent between 2007 and 2009 started appearing on their timelines. Your Facebook timeline, as you're hopefully already aware, is open for your friends to see (and everyone else using the service if your privacy settings allow it), so we can see why this would cause some controversy.

After all, having messages that were intended to be private suddenly appear on a very public part of your profile could potentially result in a hairy situation for some users, so it would be cause for concern if stuff like this was actually happening. Facebook says it isn't though, telling BBC that it is "satisfied that there has been no breach of user privacy." Engineers working at Facebook claim there is "no way" that private messages could accidentally show up on a user's timeline, according to a source close to the company.

Facebook users who claim to be affected by this glitch in the system aren't convinced that everything is all hunky-dory though. The BBC quotes a number of users who are claiming that this is a very real problem, with one of them – What I Wore Today owner Poppy Dinsey – saying that messages spanning the six-year period between 2006 and 2012 have appeared on her wall. That definitely is not a good thing, and if these users are telling the truth, then it will only be the latest in a long line of privacy concerns for Facebook.

Of course, it's hard to tell which side is telling the truth when both sides are giving very different versions of the story. We're tempted to believe the users before believing Facebook, merely because the users don't have to worry about public relations or running damage control, but it is possible that these users are simply mistaken in this case. Has this rumored glitch affected any of you, or are your private messages staying off your timeline?