Here's a cache of the private messages misdirected by Facebook last week, messages about sex and divorce, devotion and infidelity, cancer and rubdowns. Messages underlining how deeply digital networks run through our lives, and how important online privacy has become.
Last week, a routine Facebook code update sent hundreds of private messages to the wrong recipients, illustrating the outsized impact of a simple programming bug.
The actual content of those messages, meanwhile, shows the emotional weight behind the numbers, and hints at the sorts of interpersonal disasters that might unfold if the messages had ended up in the hands of friends and acquaintances rather than total strangers.
The below messages, provided to us by Facebook user Sarah Heyward, who has given us permission to use her name, are the first we're aware of to be explicitly presented whole and in this quantity. That's despite the fact that some misdirected Facebook messages ended up in the hands of two journalists, one an online editor for the Wall Street Journal and the other a reporter for Sports Illustrated. The Journal did excerpt some messages here, though if any were presented whole the paper didn't say so.
We expect some messages will be presented whole during a musical reading at the East Village bar Heathers Friday night.
In any case, our intention in presenting the full text of these messages is not to expose the lives of strangers but to give a flavor of the deeply personal information that runs through Facebook's network, and to show the sort of deeply personal information that Facebook leaked, to strangers, in the latest in a series of privacy goofs.
As such, we've redacted people's names in the messages below.
We have, however, cross referenced the names of the message senders with their Facebook profiles just to make sure these communications are authentic; all indications are that they are. Our thanks to Tipster Sarah, who supplied them to us while also supplying them to Nick Summers, organizer of tomorrow night's event.
From a woman and apparent soon-to-be ex-wife, presumably to her husband. Heartbreaking:
From a female, a thoroughly flattering upset message to some guy:
We were severely tempted to private message the guy who wrote this and get the backstory, but didn't. Dude, if you're reading this, email us. Here:
Anyone familiar with this particular film? Also, we presume "JK" is "just kidding:"
From a woman to, uh, her special friend? Hmmm:
Worst use of an emoticon ever:
Blink 182 lyrics followed by "always thinking of you" in Spanish:
From a dedicated man to a woman aching for punctuation:
At first we were thinking affair, but after reading the second message we were thinking "teenager:"
Tipster Sarah: "I do understand French and this one is hilarious. Guess French girls say the same shit about their mutual 'friends' as the rest of us do." Google translation underneath; post your corrections in the comments or email:
As I told you recently, I have too much free time, which means too much time on Facebook, which means I'm made to look for random patterns. I therefore have this gossip / bitcherie: Do you think that Maureen is made less ugly than before? Just like normal?
A "nagging" message to be careful what you post via Facebook. Oh, come on what's the worst that could possibly.... err, nevermind:
(Top pic: Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg at his desk, via his Facebook account.)