Facebook quietly removed messages sent by CEO Mark Zuckerberg and other company executives from users’ inboxes, a concerning revelation that comes as the company struggles to restore user trust following the Cambridge Analytica data leak.
TechCrunch on Friday, citing three unnamed sources, reported that the messages in question “disappeared” from people’s Facebook inboxes and downloadable archives.
“Facebook chats sent by Zuckerberg from several years ago or older were missing from the inboxes of both former employees and non-employees,” the site reported. “What’s left makes it look the [sic] recipients were talking to themselves, as only their side of back-and-forth conversations with Zuckerberg still appear.”
It’s important to note that users themselves don’t have this privilege. If you delete a Facebook message you sent to someone, it will go away on your end, but still remain in the other person’s inbox.
In a statement to PCMag, a Facebook spokesperson confirmed the removal and said it was prompted by security concerns following the 2014 Sony Pictures hack.
“After Sony Pictures’ emails were hacked in 2014 we made a number of changes to protect our executives’ communications,” Facebook said. “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.”
The problem, though, is that Facebook never informed users about this action. And, as TechCrunch pointed out, Facebook’s terms of service don’t appear to give the company the right to “tamper with users’ private message threads.”
Meanwhile, this new revelation comes as Zuckerberg prepares for a trip to Capitol Hill next week to speak about the Cambridge Analytica leak. The CEO this week took responsibility for the leak, which impacted up to 87 million users, and acknowledged the company should have done more to protect users’ privacy.
When it comes to protecting its own privacy, Facebook seems to do a better job.