Facebook Timeline confusion leads to profile deletions in Finland

21 Dec 2011

The appearance of old wall entries on Facebook as Finnish Facebook users tried out the new Timeline feature sparked a furor that led to many believing there was a security breach and as a result they deleted their accounts.

Facebook had to announce on Monday that reports that spread through Finland like wildfire about private messages being exposed in public were, in fact, old wall notices.

According to Finnish newspaper Helsingin Sanomat, the furor was parked on Sunday when Kari Haakana, the head of internet services at the Finnish Broadcasting Company, warned on Facebook that private inbox messages had been found in the new Timeline.

Haakana says he was shown screen grabs that convinced him people’s private messages were being exposed.

The warning led to many deleting old messages on Facebook and some even deleting their entire profile from the social network.

The matter was immediately investigated at Facebook’s offices in Dublin and at Facebook head offices in Palo Alto, California.

One of the shock factors about Facebook’s Timeline that people experience is how far back it goes – right to the very start – and in fact in the early days of ‘pokes’, people communicated by writing directly onto one another’s walls, which no doubt caused the hysteria and misunderstanding about private messages being leaked as part of some security leak.

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years