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