Facebook has admitted it secretly deleted messages sent by its CEO Mark Zuckerberg, without the recipients knowledge.
Facebook used a hidden feature, which is not available to its 2.2 billion users, to delete messages sent using Facebook Messenger.
The company confirmed it had been removing the messages sent by Zuckerberg from the inboxes of users for years, without telling them.
Facebook admitted the practice following a report by TechCrunch.
The company said that it started deleting messages sent by Zuckerberg and other senior executives in 2014 following the cyber attack on Sony Pictures when hackers obtained and released staff emails.
The emails leaked in the Sony hacked included disparaging remarks and negative comments on actors and people working in the entertainment industry.
The news comes after it was revealed that Facebook scans the contents of messages sent on its Messenger app in order to block any content that contravenes Facebook’s community standards.
Facebook has denied that the purpose of scanning messages was so that it could target users with advertisements.
While the intentions of scanning people’s messages is well meaning, many users remain unconvinced regarding Facebook’s claims that it wants to be transparent with users and remain concerned about just how much information the social network knows about them.
One user on Twitter, Kevin Chastain, wrote: “So I was messaging my wife about dinner tonight mentioned a particular place on Facebook messenger and then opened up Facebook about to see an ad for that restaurant.
“Tell me they aren’t in on every convo I have. Scary!”
In a statement a spokesperson for Facebook said:
“For example, on Messenger, when you send a photo, our automated systems scan it using photo matching technology to detect known child exploitation imagery or when you send a link, we scan it for malware or viruses.”
“Facebook designed these automated tools so we can rapidly stop abusive behaviour on our platform.”