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No Facebook bug but site blamed

French data watchdog says 'private' messages were never private - and says company bosses at fault for continual changes

FRENCH data watchdog CNIL has told Facebook users there was no "bug" that allowed private messages to be seen on their Timeline.

But it has warned the social network that it its own failings and constant changes to privacy conditions were to blame for the problem, the rumour and the way it spread as users did not trust the company.

The Commission Nationale de l’Informatique et des Libertés had examined claims that private messages were suddenly on open view after Facebook launched its Timeline feature, which lists a history of a user's non-private content since joining the network.

Last week users flooded internet messageboards and Facebook itself with claims that a bug in its software had breached their privacy but CNIL said it had examined some of the messages involved and found that, despite what users thought, they had never been private.

But it attacked Facebook, saying: "The private character of the content of these messages seems indisputable. In other words, users had the impression they were sending private messages when they were, in fact, using the wall-to-wall message system."

And it said Facebook had "unilaterally and continually" changed the privacy conditions of use between 2009 and 2010 and told the company it needed "greater transparency" on its use of users' personal information.

Facebook said that it "respects European legislation on data protection".

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