Facebook unfriending 'bug' gets quick fix

Users who were previously able to see who "unfriended" them in the new Timeline can no longer do so.

Don Reisinger
Don Reisinger
Former CNET contributor Don Reisinger is a technology columnist who has covered everything from HDTVs to computers to Flowbee Haircut Systems. Besides his work with CNET, Don's work has been featured in a variety of other publications including PC World and a host of Ziff-Davis publications.
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Facebook users who were spying on their Timeline to see who had unfriended them in the past will no longer be able to do so.

Late last week, Facebook users discovered that when accessing the social network's new Timeline feature and choosing a year, they could find out which former friends had unfriended them. When viewing their friends list in a particular year, users who saw an "Add Friend" icon next to a person's name knew that that particular user had unfriended them since that time.

As expected, folks who have access to Timeline rushed to the new feature to see who had decided against keeping in contact. Meanwhile, some privacy advocates complained that the feature was a violation of user privacy, since it was made abundantly clear to de-friended people who no longer wanted contact with them. After just a couple days of outcry, Facebook nixed the feature, telling some reporters it had been a bug.

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Over the years, Facebook has shied away from allowing users to find out when they're unfriended by a person. That said, it isn't all that difficult to determine. If users sift through their friends list looking for someone who used to be there and now isn't, they're no longer a friend. And when they view that person's profile page, they'll be given the "Add Friend" option.

So, while the Timeline bug was by no means groundbreaking, it was notable, since it made it much easier for folks to determine who had unfriended them.

Timeline was announced last week during Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg's keynote address at the F8 conference. The feature, which will be rolled out to the entire Facebook community in the coming weeks, allows users to take a glimpse into their lives on the social network over the years by viewing updates they posted, friends they had, and other content shared with the site. During his address, Zuckerberg said Timeline is "the story of your life."

Facebook did not immediately respond to CNET's request for comment on the Timeline fix.