Facebook is obsequiously assuring everyone that it will be responsible with users' data and transparent with how it's shared. But evidence emerged yesterday that the company has been quietly deleting old messages Mark Zuckerberg and other executives have sent from recipients' inboxes. Facebook fessed up to TechCrunch that they'd been doing so for awhile. Now the company is promising to extend the feature to users in the coming months -- but until it's widely released, any messages from Zuckerberg et al won't be wiped away.
"After Sony Pictures’ emails were hacked in 2014 we made a number of changes to protect our executives’ communications," a Facebook spokesperson told TechCrunch. "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." Interestingly, the company's wording seems to suggest this message deletion was planned in advance.
Facebook hasn't finalized how the 'unsend' feature will work, according to TechCrunch. One possible solution will be a timer set by the sender, and once it runs out, the message will vanish from both inboxes (this is similar to how Zuckerberg's messages were retracted). But the company isn't certain if they'll use this method or a different one, or even if recipients will be notified when a message is 'unsent.' Regardless, the feature should arrive in the coming months.
Facebook maintained that it was within its legal rights to preserve messages when deleting messages from senior staff, which it started doing in the wake of the 2014 Sony hack to avoid future leaks of correspondence. It's unclear how long the company was deleting messages -- just that they admitted to the course of action only after being confronted with evidence.