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The Persuader

My personal blog, started in 2006. No paid or guest posts, no link sales.

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Facebook’s explanations check out after all

After a day of worrying about a potential Facebook privacy breach—and some very simple questions no one seemed to be asking—Richard MacManus’s Facebook status update attracted a comment from Jesse Stay:

Someone needs to go back through their email notifications, and if we can find one that matches a wall post, where the email notification says it was a private message, then we have a silver bullet.

   So I did.
   And it all checks out. Every wall-to-wall post that I was notified about before August 1, 2007 (the day I switched notifications off) correlates with what Facebook claims is a public post.
   They’re not completely off the hook as there are some from 2009 that are definitely private—one was from a friend who was under media scrutiny at the time and she would not have written that message publicly—but I’m convinced the majority are as Facebook said.
   Which leads me to wonder two things: did Facebook change the way it counted earlier wall posts last week? I’m still certain there were fewer in the 2007 total than 786. Perhaps it didn’t count wall-to-wall ones before?
   Naturally, after discovering this, I notified the Privacy Commissioner, Marie Shroff, so that we wouldn’t waste her time.
   With all the glitches I had documented, I would never normally go to the media as I did today. It really looked serious enough, corroborated by numerous friends, who had good reason to be concerned. And I still believe them: I believe that they did seize upon some breaches, but that those, like the 2009 ones I write about, are more isolated than I thought. I believe my friend when she says there were DMs relating to a contractual dispute that are on her wall—and a few other examples I heard which were very specific. I don’t for a second think their judgement was wrong.
   It reminds me that I tend to go public when I think others are involved and need my help, and after I check out the claims—but when it’s me alone, I usually put it down to the Frank Spencer effect I have with technology. It just looks like this case needed a few more checks—after all, Facebook has given me plenty of reasons to be sceptical, as documented on this blog many times—and I’m glad I stayed on the case today to give it a pass on many of these posts.

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Filed under: business, internet, media, New Zealand, USA—Jack Yan @ 08.29

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