Facebook deleted Mark Zuckerberg's messages from inboxes

The CEO's Facebook Messenger messages disappear from recipients' inboxes after a certain length of time. Some might call it the Snapchat effect.

Katie Collins Senior European Correspondent
Katie a UK-based news reporter and features writer. Officially, she is CNET's European correspondent, covering tech policy and Big Tech in the EU and UK. Unofficially, she serves as CNET's Taylor Swift correspondent. You can also find her writing about tech for good, ethics and human rights, the climate crisis, robots, travel and digital culture. She was once described a "living synth" by London's Evening Standard for having a microchip injected into her hand.
Katie Collins
2 min read

Zuck's messages: now you see them, now you don't.

James Martin/CNET

Remember those Facebook messages you received years ago? Check back far enough in your inbox and you'll probably find they're still there.

Unless, that is, they were from CEO Mark Zuckerberg.

Facebook deleted messages Zuckerberg sent on the platform from the inboxes of people who received them, according to TechCrunch. The news site said it has seen the receipts in the form of one-sided dregs of conversations and email notifications alerting some users that the Facebook CEO had been in touch.

Most of us can only delete messages from our own inboxes in what today is known as Facebook Messenger. Missives sent to others will remain in recipients' inboxes until they're deleted. Facebook admitted retracting its CEO's messages for security reasons. It deployed a Snapchat-esque effect, by which messages self-combusted after a certain length of time.

"After Sony Pictures' emails were hacked in 2014 we made a number of changes to protect our executives' communications," a Facebook spokesman said over email. "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."

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Facebook might have technically been playing by the rules, but not informing users that Zuckerberg's messages were being deleted from the inboxes could be seen as playing fast and loose with their trust. It's not ideal timing for the social network, given that it's currently pursuing a significant trust-rebuilding mission.

Just this week Facebook announced a new data policy, following revelations that user data was not always protected as it should have been in the past.

Zuckerberg has been stung before when his private messages from 2004 were leaked in 2010. It was an embarrassing incident for the CEO, who had to apologize for calling his fellow Harvard students "dumb fucks" for trusting him with their data. It wouldn't be surprising if measures were put in place to prevent similar incidents happening again.

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