Question of the Day: What's the Worst Thing We'd Find in Your Facebook Messages?

"Probably the naughty messages from university time."

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20 December 2018, 11:16am

We've all got our demons, many of which are tucked away in the archives of our Facebook Messenger chats. Good news for everyone, then, that Facebook has been caught dishing out these private chats to streaming services Spotify and Netflix, as well as a number of other tech firms.

While the social media giant faces another backlash, I had a walk around and asked the general public if they're biting their nails over Facebook’s latest gaffe.

CAROLINE, 26

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VICE: What would be the worst thing Facebook might see in your private messages?
Caroline: I use Messenger to speak with my friends as if we're texting, so I wouldn't really be happy to have people checking that stuff out. Like party planning, alcohol-related, drug stuff, sex stuff. But often I leave those things to actual text messages, so perhaps my Facebook Messenger might be a little more tame. A little less drugs and sex.

What's the worst thing about Facebook now?
I just don’t think it’s really relevant anymore. I think most people who go on Facebook are older people. I do use Messenger, but I don’t publish pictures anymore, and I don’t get tagged in pictures. Even the amount of messages you get on your Facebook for your birthday has decreased dramatically. It’s sad!

How much do you care about the privacy on your social media in general?
I don't care that much – my profile on Instagram isn't private. I’m not posting nuclear bomb codes, I’m posting holiday pictures, so if anyone is interested I’m happy!

BILLIE, 30 & PER, 26

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What’d be the worst thing Facebook could see in your private messages?
Per: Oh, well, further down the archives, probably like naughty messages during university time. Those ones are a little bit like, "ooo..." Yeah, don't want those ones to be revealed.
Billie: See, I would say like maybe bitching about a colleague to another colleague. Yeah, that would be really bad.

What would you say is the worst thing about Facebook nowadays?
Billie: It used to be more personal, like you could see what your friends were doing and stuff, but now there’s too much advertising and it’s lost that personal touch.

Do you feel like you use Facebook less now?
Per: Yeah, definitely. I kind of have it running in the background, but I won’t be scouring through it. I only use it mainly for chat these days.
Billie: Yeah just for the messenger now, and to organise events and stuff too.

In terms of privacy with social media, how much do you care about how private chats are?
Billie: I think with private chat I care a lot – it’s super personal. I'm really private on social media. Like, I’m not a massive Instagram user, for example. I don’t post a massive amount of photos, but I do choose the content I actually want to be put out there to share with people.
Per: I completely agree – like, if you want it private, it should be kept private.

LIBAAN, 22 & ROBERT, 21

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What would be the worst private message of yours that Facebook could be looking at?
Robert: Well, mostly just personal stuff that I would be talking quietly to other people about, like... about other people [laughs], because that shit’s proper invasive, you know?
Libaan: Look, there could be thousands of people out there that know my name, know where I live, know my life story. We’ve all subscribed to the terms and conditions we’re given before you play those Facebook games, or make downloads, because we've been like, 'I don’t give a fuck, just give me my product.' Clicking continue is pretty much like signing your signature and giving consent. So, for me, I’m probably doing a double standard by getting pissed off at this.

What do you think the worst thing about Facebook is now?
Robert: I mean... the way it’s just become memes. Only memes!
Libaan: I think they're all just copying each other. Like with Facebook, you can put stories just like Instagram now, and that started with Snapchat, so now everyone's doing it. They're just plagiarising each other, and that’s the same with people, too. We use the platforms that copy each other, and then, as people, we'll all copy each other with the clothes we wear, the things we do.

Do you think Facebook's dying out?
Robert: I think it’s dying out, but very slowly. I reckon it's probably got another five years in the tank. The new generation is showing everyone what their life is like; Instagram stories, Snapchat, it’s all more detailed. But Facebook, back in the day, you’d just post like, "Oh I’m gonna go to the shop."
Libaan: I don’t know if it’s dying out. Maybe it’s dying because it’s not the cloutiest, you know? But Facebook's been about since '04, and we've all got Facebook, so it's not going away yet.

LAURA, 23

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What'd be the worst thing Facebook would see in your private messages?
Laura: Honestly, bank details! That does worry me. Obviously that's a different kind of "private information", and it’s not just me – my friends will send me their bank details too. But then, I don't really mind if they're picking up on certain things, like presents I want to buy for people or things I’m interested in. Advertise to me!

What do you think the worst thing about Facebook is these days?
Ads, man. Wait… I know I literally just said that was good, but when it’s for stuff I’m not actually interested in, it’s annoying. And those stupid pages you liked when you were 12 come back again, and it's just ads or racist stuff that comes up as well – that’s really bad.

Would you say it's dying out as a social media platform?
Yeah. Well, the only people who really post on Facebook anymore are people I don't really care about. Platforms like Instagram are more artistic and you can follow very specific things now, and political news I can get from the BBC app or whatever.

JAMES, 25

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What's the worst thing Facebook would see in your private messages?
James: Ooooh. I mean, I'm actually pretty comfortable with Facebook reading my information. That may be a little unorthodox, but I think overall a big company shouldn't care about me, other than things they can market at me.

So you wouldn't mind about things you've said privately being seen by other people?
I guess it depends. Like, if there's regulations on how they can use the info then it's fine by me. But then, if it’s a free for all, it’s a bit iffy, you know? At the end of the day, though, no one should care what I do. I'm a 25-year-old student who's probably not going into politics, so I think I'll survive.

What do you think the worst thing about Facebook is now?
It's too time consuming, and, you know... old people.

Do you think Facebook's still alive and kicking, or is it on its way out?
I think certain parts of it, like Facebook groups – buy, sell, trade, the events, for example – are alive and well. But Facebook for what it was meant to be originally is definitely dying.

How far do you go in making sure your social media profiles are private?
I did at one point, but I figured out there's so many people using the internet now, you'll just get lost in the mass of people using it anyway.