Facebook Offers Fix To Those Receiving Strangers' Messages

Feb 16 2014, 12:12pm CST | by

Kristal McKenzie was distraught because she was receiving thousands of messages intended for a teenage Facebook user in Mexico and she had no way to stop them. She had tried to tell someone at Facebook about the problem for nine months with no success. She half-heartedly reached out to me for help, asking me at the very least if I knew “Mark Zuckerberg’s email address so [she could] set up a filter to auto-forward every single one of these to him?”

After I reached out, Facebook fixed the issue for McKenzie saying that it was the result of a weird set of circumstances that were “extremely rare.” But when you have a billion users, “extremely rare” translates to “a-bunch-of-other-really-frustrated-people-with-the-same-problem-who-have-flocked-to-this-Forbes-reporter-for-help.” In many cases, the person whose private messages were being exposed to a stranger had their privacy settings (ironically) set high so they couldn’t be contacted by that stranger and made aware of what was happening. What I’ve been told by readers:

  • The same thing is happening to me, only it’s not with a child. I get a delightful woman’s updates from Ohio. I’ve asked her to fix it. I’ve sent messages to her friends letting them know I’m able to see what they are saying to this woman when they think they are sending a private message. They haven’t notified her. I’ve tried to contact Facebook, which is laughable.
  • I’ve been dealing with an identical problem as what you describe. Not sure how to contact [the Facebook user in India] by email, since I don’t know what his “actual” email is, and can’t reach him by Facebook.
  • I’ve attached a heartwarming screenshot demonstrating how I have the power to reset the password of the account and seize control of it if I want. [Ed. note: Convincing screenshot was attached.]

Facebook says it has fixed the weird edge case so that if a typo-prone Facebook user enters the wrong email address while registering, the poor fool with that email address can click the “disavow option” and not get stuck receiving thousands of emails about pokes, photo comments, friend requests, and private Facebook messages. Facebook says anyone should now be able to go back to the original erroneous welcome email to disavow the account. But what if they deleted that email? Well, they won’t have to rely on the kindness of a random privacy journalist to contact Facebook’s PR department for them anymore. Facebook now has a dedicated form in its Help Center for this type of situation. You can find it here.

Facebook says it’s also thinking about surfacing the “LET US KNOW IF YOU ARE NOT ACTUALLY SUPPOSED TO BE THE ONE RECEIVING THIS” link in emails other than the original welcome email.

Of course, the other possibility is that a stranger is getting your Facebook messages and likes it. In that case, they’re not going to go to the trouble of stopping the messages, so you should protect yourself. Make sure to check your contact information page to make sure there aren’t any unfamiliar email addresses there.

Source: Forbes Auto

 
 
 

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