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LES ECHOS, METRO, 20 MINUTES (France), BBC, THE TELEGRAPH (UK)

Worldcrunch

Facebook has been forced to deny reports that private messages have been appearing publicly on the social networking site, as millions of users panic and company share prices plummet.

France's leading business daily Les Echos reports that the French government has summoned Facebook managers Tuesday to appear before the data watchdog CNIL.

"Clear and transparent explanations must be given without delay," a statement read, issued by French government ministers Arnaud Montebourg and Fleur Pellerin.

Whether fact or fiction, word started to spread when the website of French free daily Metro supposedly broke the story Monday afternoon that private messages dated from 2007 to 2009 were publicly appearing on users' timelines. The daily alleged that users' inbox messages were appearing on timelines "mixed in with comments on users' walls," and the story was subsequently picked up by European newspapers, with word traveling via Twitter, and guides appearing on how to rectify the problem.

Trying to calm the flurry of panicked messages, Facebook announced to the BBC on Monday evening that the rumors were "false," insisting that the "messages were older wall posts that had always been visible on the users' profile pages."

An unnamed source working at Facebook said that "no mechanism" had ever been created to allow private messages to appear publicly.

Andrew Bosworth, Facebook's director of engineering said, ""In case there was any concern, these are just wall posts and not personal messages… people just forget how we used to use the wall!," reports the Telegraph.

Can't tell from Facebook whether my private message have been leaked or if I simply had no concept of what was appropriate in public in 2008

— Duncan Robinson (@duncanrobinson) September 24, 2012

This Twitter user best demonstrates the possible explanation that society has perhaps become better adapted to self-censoring what appears publicly on Facebook than they were in 2007, as naïve newcomers to social networking.

However, many remain extremely skeptical of Facebook's intentions and the company's share prices were under intense pressure Monday, down 9.1% to $20.79.

The slump on Wall Street was mainly attributed to the American financial publication Barron's, which said the stock was only worth around $15 a share. Shares have plummeted 45% since they were first floated in May at $38 a share.

Facebook's real problem, of course, is how ready everyone was to believe the absolute worst.

— Milo Yiannopoulos (@Nero) September 24, 2012

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FOCUS: Russia-Ukraine War

When Did Putin "Turn" Evil? That's Exactly The Wrong Question

Look back over the past two decades, and you'll see Vladimir Putin has always been the man revealed by the Ukraine invasion, an evil and sinister dictator. The Russian leader just managed to mask it, especially because so many chose to see him as a typically corrupt and greedy strongman who could be bribed or reasoned with.

Putin arrives for a ceremony to accept credentials from 24 foreign ambassadors at the Grand Kremlin Palace on Sept. 20.

Sergiy Gromenko*

-OpEd-

KYIV — The world knows that Vladimir Putin has power, money and mistresses. So why, ask some, wasn't that enough for him? Why did he have to go start another war?

At its heart, this is the wrong question to ask. For Putin, military expansion is not an adrenaline rush to feed into his existing life of luxury. On the contrary, the shedding of blood for the sake of holding power is his modus operandi, while the fruits of greed and corruption like the Putin Palace in Gelendzhik are more like a welcome bonus.

In the last year, we have kept hearing rhetorical questions like “why did Putin start this war at all, didn't he have enough of his own land?” or “he already has Gelendzhik to enjoy, why fight?” This line of thinking has resurfaced after missile strikes on Ukrainian power grids and dams, which was regarded by many as a simple demonstration of terrorism. Such acts are a manifestation of weakness, some ask, so is Putin ready to show himself weak?

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However, you will not arrive at the correct answer if the questions themselves are asked incorrectly. For decades, analysts in Russia, Ukraine, and the West have been under an illusion about the nature of the Russian president's personal dictatorship.

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Central to the tragic absurdity of this war is the question of language. Vladimir Putin has repeated that protecting ethnic Russians and the Russian-speaking populations of Ukraine was a driving motivation for his invasion.

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