Battered by media reports that it “secretly” deleted CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s posts from his recipients’ inboxes, Facebook is now planning to make its “Unsend” feature available to its over two billion users in coming months.
According to a report in technology website Tech Crunch on Saturday, unless the “Unsend” feature is released for everyone, Facebook will not unsend or retract any more of Zuckerberg’s messages.
“We have discussed this feature several times. And people using our secret message feature in the encrypted version of Messenger have the ability to set a timer — and have their messages automatically deleted,” a Facebook spokesperson was quoted as saying in the report.
“We will now be making a broader delete message feature available. This may take some time. And until this feature is ready, we will no longer be deleting any executives’ messages. We should have done this sooner — and we’re sorry that we did not,” the spokesperson added.
According to an earlier Tech Crunch report on Friday, “Three sources confirm that old Facebook messages they received from Zuckerberg have disappeared from their Facebook inboxes, while their own replies to him conspicuously remain.”
“Facebook never publicly disclosed the removal of messages from users’ inboxes, nor privately informed the recipients. That raises the question of whether this was a breach of user-trust,” the report added.
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.”
Currently, users can only delete messages from their own inboxes which will still show up in the recipient’s thread.
There appears to be no “retention period” for normal users’ messages.
Facebook’s terms of service don’t give the right to remove content from users’ accounts unless it violates the company’s community standards.
After facing mammoth controversy over its users’ data breach via British political analytics firm Cambridge Analytica, the Facebook CEO is expected to testify before two Congressional committees next week.
Earlier this week, Facebook Chief Technology Officer Mike Schroepfer, in a blog post, gave country-specific break-up of people affected by the data breach, saying information of up to 87 million people, mostly in the US, may have been “improperly” shared with Cambridge Analytica via a quiz app, “thisisyourdigitallife”, between November 2013 and December 2015.