If you’ve downloaded the giant file of all the data Facebook has on you, you know that includes every embarrassing message you’ve ever sent. You can delete them, sure … but that won’t delete them from the recipient’s data file. That is, unless you are Mark Zuckerberg. Several sources told TechCrunch that messages from Zuckerberg had vanished from their in-boxes.
“After Sony Pictures’ emails were hacked in 2014 we made a number of changes to protect our executives’ communications. These included limiting the retention period for Mark’s messages in Messenger,” a Facebook representative said. “We did so in full compliance with our legal obligations to preserve messages.” Unlike Zuck, the average Facebook user does not have a limited retention period for their messages. Meaning, if you sent it on Facebook at anytime since you joined, the person you sent it to still has a copy. Facebook, as noted by TechCrunch, didn’t actually notify users that Zuckerberg’s messages were being deleted from their in-boxes.
Meanwhile, back at the ranch, Sheryl Sandberg told the Financial Times that it was “a mistake” that she and Zuckerberg waited so long to speak publicly after the Cambridge Analytica news broke last month. “It is on us that we didn’t go back and do a forensic audit [of Cambridge Analytica]. We are now trying to do that,” Sandberg also said. In an interview with Today, Sandberg said there is currently no way for a user to entirely opt out of having Facebook collect and sell their data. “That would be a paid product,” she said. At this point, it sounds like a product people might actually be willing to pay for.
Update, April 6, 2018, 5:01 p.m.: Facebook announced later on Friday that it will begin letting all users permanently delete sent messages — meaning messages will vanish from a recipient’s in-box — in the future. Until that feature is widely available, the company will not allow Mark Zuckerberg to delete anymore of his old messages. “We have discussed this feature several times. And people using our secret message feature in the encrypted version of Messenger have the ability to set a timer — and have their messages automatically deleted. We will now be making a broader delete message feature available. This may take some time. And until this feature is ready, we will no longer be deleting any executives’ messages. We should have done this sooner — and we’re sorry that we did not”.