Kristal McKenzie, a young mother in North Carolina, got rid of her Facebook profile in 2011. However, shortly after that, she received a notification from the site – in Spanish – that she had signed up for an account. She translated the message and realized that it was intended for a young teenage girl in Mexico. She notified Facebook of the mistake, but the messages kept coming. And coming. Before the emails finally stopped last week, McKenzie said that she had received over 14,000 messages intended for someone else.
“I’ve been battling with them for months trying to find a person at Facebook who would listen to me,” McKenzie said of her efforts to stop the messages.
McKenzie eventually told a Forbes reporter about the situation, and the reporter published a story about it. The cause of the problem, the reporter found, was that the messages had been re-directed because of a typo on the teen girl’s part.
Facebook said this error occurs when a user gives a wrong email address during the registration process then confirms a correct phone number. Even if the recipient of Facebook’s “welcome” message disavows it, their email account is still the one associated with the Facebook account, and they will continue receiving messages. Facebook says it has fixed the disavowal problem, though there is still no solution for the individuals who are stuck receiving someone else’s messages.
Users can access their account information and see which email addresses are associated with their account to make sure things aren’t being sent to the wrong place. However, this small error could still represent a big privacy concern.
“This for me wasn’t even about something being irritating or annoying, weeding through all the spam … if it happened to me, it could happen to someone else, some child’s information exposed,” McKenzie said.