Some Facebook users in Finland went as far as closing their accounts following confusion over the new Timeline feature, the country’s newspaper Helsingin Sanomat reports.
When Timeline rolled out worldwide last week, replacing users’ profiles with a chronological history of their lives, there was bound to be some negative blowback as people adjusted to the new approach. It appears that in this case, the word on the Finnish grapevine was that old private messages between users were appearing on Timelines.
Understandably, this caused panic – private messages in public would be a PR disaster for Facebook. In actual fact, these were just public posts to users’ old profile Walls, being displayed in a new way. However, it seems that a Finnish Broadcasting Company employee helped spread the idea that they were private messages after apparently being shown screenshots as proof.
Helsingin Sanomat says that some Facebook users in Finland were confused that there weren’t any reports of this problem from elsewhere in the world, and that some were so worried that they deleted old private messages – or even their whole accounts.
Facebook has confirmed to the newspaper that they were indeed just public wall posts and not private messages. Those who apparently “deleted their accounts” will be able to reactivate them easily enough, but what’s interesting about this story is how it was apparently so contained within Finland. It seems that even in the age of fast-spreading misinformation, language barriers can help contain a false rumour.