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Facebook denies Timeline publishes punters' private posts

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Facebook has denied claims it has exposed its users' private messages on their profile pages.

Reports stemming from France, where Facebook has just rolled out its Timeline website layout, suggested that punters could view old private missives as public posts between 2007 and 2009. The new Timeline format is gradually being introduced as a replacement for the company's previous profile pages as the site undergoes a significant scrapbook-like makeover.

But Facebook has robustly rejected such claims, saying it would be impossible for a personal message to end up on a person's "wall".

Instead, The Register understands that the Timeline design has confused some Facebookers, especially as old wall posts have all been amalgamated under annual banners.

The bunching together of messages shared between long-term users of the site does make the posts appear more personal. They also show how much more frank and revealing people actually were on the site five years ago, compared to today's locked-down usage.

Here's Facebook's official line on the matter:

A small number of users raised concerns after what they 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.

The company probed a similar claim late last year that was also found to be simply a damaging rumour. In 2007, Facebook didn't offer a comments feature, so Wall posts - which are naturally more open exchanges - were pervasive back then.

El Reg heard from a couple of readers who claimed that their personal messages were showing up on their Timelines. However, no one was able to demonstrate that the alleged security flaw had occurred.

Meanwhile, shares in Facebook tripped the Nasdaq's "circuit breaker" on Monday, after stock fell 10 per cent following an extremely stinky analyst report from Barron's. The analyst snootily noted that Mark Zuckerberg's recently floated company appeared to have been "caught by surprise" by the explosion in smartphone usage. ®

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