Facebook is in the middle of an unprecedented crisis of public trust. More and more users are beginning to question what Facebook is doing with their personal information — and why the site has so much of it in the first place. And in this atmosphere of mounting skepticism, more stories are coming to light that paint a bad picture of Facebook. One such report this week revealed Facebook has secretly deleted private messages from CEO Mark Zuckerberg.
Why is this so troubling? First of all, deleting Zuck’s sent messages requires Facebook to reach into other users’ inboxes. Second, this isn’t a feature regular users can access, so by using it, Facebook is giving executives special treatment and control over other people’s content.
As for why Facebook deleted the messages, the company said it was only protecting its leadership from hacking.
“After Sony Pictures’ emails were hacked in 2014 we made a number of changes to protect our executives’ communications,” the company said. “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.”
However, Facebook could use this ability for more nefarious purposes if it really wanted to, like covering up embarrassing old posts from its executive leadership. And the wake of this report, Facebook also claimed that it’s preparing to introduce an “unsend” feature for its messages. It’s unclear if this is true, or if the company is merely covering its tracks now that it got caught doing something it shouldn’t. But no matter what, this intense scrutiny of Facebook is a necessary step to make sure the site keeps its promises — and cleans up its act.