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Facebook responds to allegations that private messages are showing up on Timeline


Updated 5:14 p.m. ET

(CBS News) Facebook users may want to check their privacy settings as soon as possible. Some users are reporting that private messages written on the social network are showing up on their Timelines. But Facebook says the allegations are not true.

According to Metro France, messages that were written between 2007 and 2009 are showing up on Facebook Timeline. Even when the messages are deleted, they still appear on the Timelines of recipients of private messages, the newspaper reports.

Similar situations were reported by The Next Web, citing one of the website's French reporters. The site also claims that reports of the glitch are surfacing in Brazil, Canada, France, Israel, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom and the United States.

Facebook has debunked the reports of a security breach or bug. The social network believes the messages were wall posts that were always public. A spokesperson for Facebook released this statement to CBS News via email:

"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."

Facebook has changed its privacy settings a few times over the years, which could explain the confusion. According to a BBC source at Facebook, engineers claim that there's no way for private messages to get mixed up with wall posts.

Part of the confusion could be that Facebook's wall was the main method of communication on the social network for years.

"Every report we've seen, we've gone back and checked," a Facebook spokesperson told CNET. "We haven't seen one report that's been confirmed. 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."

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