Facebook later claimed they were retracting these messages in an attempt to "protect [their] executives' communications" following the Sony Pictures email hack in 2014.
The Sony messages included critical remarks about movie stars and others in the entertainment industry. "We did so in full compliance with our legal obligations to preserve messages", the company said.
Deleting messages is not a function that Facebook offers to ordinary users, despite Facebook-owned WhatsApp and Instagram offering varying abilities to unsend messages. "This may take some time", a Facebook spokesman wrote in an e-mail last Friday. The thing is, Zuckerberg and Facebook executives deleted messages from regular, private conversations with users, so some are uneasy that they were deleted without notice or discretion.
CEO Mark Zuckerberg will have to appear for two major hearings next week, who most likely think he did not handle the abuse of the social networking platform.
Not that this matters very much to individual humans: data from Facebook has been circulating for so long outside of Facebook, it can't have very much more to give about any particular user, anyway.
"We should have done this sooner ... and we're sorry that we did not", the spokesperson said. Starting Monday, Facebook will provide a link at the top of users' newsfeeds so they can check if their information was shared.
In response to the original report that went live earlier this morning, Facebook has now begun another PR campaign suggesting that it is going to release a new unsend feature for all Facebook Messenger users in the coming months.
Many have found the revelation that Zuckerberg's old messages were deleted to be a breach of trust along the lines of the Cambridge Analytica debaucle that has plagued the company for weeks.
The firm denies that, saying it licensed data for no more than 30 million - and none of it was used in the work it did on the 2016 USA presidential election.
The company has been dealing with the online privacy scandal since it was revealed that political consulting firm Cambridge Analytica mined the personal data of up to 87 million Facebook users before the 2016 presidential race.
The tech behemoth is also facing probes over the data breach from US consumer protection agency the Federal Trade Commission and from a joint New York-Massachusetts investigation.