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Facebook’s disappearing message saga is the act of a company in turmoil


First it came to light that Facebook had been deleting Mark Zuckerberg's messages from inside Messenger chats, then the firm said it would turn the trick into a feature for everyone. Given its current predicament, no wonder it decided to.

Mark’s amazing disappearing messages: TechCrunch yesterday reported that some Facebook users had found conversations that they'd held with Mark Zuckerberg on Messenger had been edited, so that the CEO’s messages were no longer visible. Facebook said it was done to protect Zuck’s communications, and in “full compliance” with its legal obligations.

Deletion for all: There was, rightly, outcry at the news—that Zuck and his fellow execs should get such privileges when using the same system as others, and at the fact that it meant Facebook was directly tampering with people's inboxes. Now Facebook has told TechCrunch that, actually, it will roll out a feature so that everyone can unsend messages in the next few months. (And Zuck won't be able to delete any until then.)

Why it matters: Facebook is in major damage-control mode in the wake of its huge data scandal, with Zuck blitzing the press this past week with announcements. Why? To have a raft of new privacy measures in place that he can point to when he testifies to Congress on April 10 and 11. The disappearing message saga is another example of how the firm is doing all it can to calm any controversy, as lawmakers decide whether to regulate his social network—something Zuck would rather didn't happen.