It’s safe to assume anything you’ve ever sent or shared via Facebook still lives on its servers ... unless you’re Mark Zuckerberg.
The Cambridge Analytica scandal has surfaced many details surrounding Facebook’s relationship with user privacy. The company scans private messages sent on the site, logs calls and texts that weren’t even sent on Facebook and regularly trades user info for ad dollars. The social network even held onto videos users recorded that they chose to delete — Facebook agreed to delete them after this was made public.
The latest privacy news out of Facebook sees the company taking further steps to protect privacy, though not of their users. Executives in the company, like Zuckerberg and others, have seen their old messages deleted. According to TechCrunch, three separate sources have confirmed messages they’ve received from Zuckerberg have disappeared from their Facebook inbox. A copy of the message sent to their email was used as proof of this.
When asked about this by TechCrunch, Facebook said it was done for security reasons. According to Facebook,
After Sony Pictures’ emails were hacked in 2014 we made a number of changes to protect our executives’ communications. These included limiting the retention period for Mark’s messages in Messenger. We did so in full compliance with our legal obligations to preserve messages.
Normal users of Facebook’s Messenger app are not allowed to fully delete messages they send. In our testing, while a delete button exists, users on the other end still can see the deleted message. And, as pointed out before, users may get an email copy depending on their settings preferences.
We may never know what messages belonging to Zuckerberg Facebook wants to hide. Though judging by past comments, the worst of them may not be pretty. Previous reports have shown Zuckerberg’s private messages have landed him in trouble before. In a private exchange where Zuckerberg offered a friend private info on “anyone at Harvard,” the CEO reportedly wrote back, “They ‘trust me.’ Dumb fucks.” He later admitted that reports of the instant message exchange were true.
In response to these revelations, users will soon gain the ability to unsend messages sent through the service. The upcoming feature, the deleting of “deleted” videos, the reducing of SMS and call logs and more show that many of Facebook’s latest privacy features are merely reactive. A proactive approach to privacy, however, could act as a start to regaining many users’ trust with the service. It may be a while before Facebook gets the message.