Facebook May Be Publishing Your Old Private Messages On Your Timeline Or You May Just Have Been Lamer Than You RememberS

Hey, hope you didn't write anything embarrassing in a private message before around 2009 on Facebook. These messages may now be published on your Timeline for all your Facebook friends to see. But are these actually old private messages, or old public wall posts you simply wish had been private?

A number of Facebook users report they've begun seeing their old private messages surfaced on their Timeline. I was just able to read a Facebook friend's old correspondences with an ex-girlfriend from 2006-2008 on his Facebook Timeline. He assured me these were private messages, not wall posts. If this bug is for real, it would be one of Facebook's biggest privacy scandals ever.

The problem was first reporter by french newspaper Metro, but is being reported by a number of users in the U.S. as well. But Facebook denies there's an issue. They said that what appears to be old private messages are in fact just old wall posts that have always been public. A spokesperson told TechCrunch:

"A small number of 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."

So it could be a case of some people looking back at their old embarrassing public wall posts and mistakenly assuming they must have been private messages. But maybe you were really just that lame, publicly, in 2009. Personally, I've gone through my old Timeline posts—an excruciating process, which I do not recommend—and can't tell if they're old private messages or wall posts.

But it's unclear if Facebook's explanation stacks up. TechCrunch's Colleen Taylor can see a personal message from Mark Zuckerberg to Path founder Dave Morin, which suggests these are in fact private messages. We'll have to wait to see if a massive spate of divorces occur in the next few days, after husbands and wives learn of their spouse's Facebook romances from 2008.

For now, you may want to hide your Facebook Timeline posts completely, just to be safe. To do this click on Privacy Settings, then click on "Timeline and Tagging." Change the settings for the options "Who can see what others post on your timeline" and "Who can see posts you've been tagged" to "custom." Select "nobody," for who can see them.

Update: A Facebook spokesman reiterates the denial to TechCrunch and offers further explanation for the "confusion":

Every report we've seen, we've gone back and checked. We haven't seen one report that's been confirmed [of a private message being exposed]. A lot of the confusion is because before 2008 there were no likes and no comments on wall posts. People went back and forth with wall posts instead of having a conversation [in the comments of single wall post.]