Facebook editing function raises concern over misuse
- 30 September 2013
- From the section Technology
A new feature allowing Facebook users to edit their status updates may result in "stitch-ups", an expert has warned.
Previously, an update would have to be deleted and reposted with any changes, losing any comments or "likes".
But the new capability, introduced to help users correct spelling and grammatical errors, means posts can be modified, and their content changed.
Facebook users who liked or interacted with the original post are not notified of any changes made.
A spokesman for Facebook explained that the update was intended to help people address typos or auto-correct errors, but wouldn't comment on the potential vulnerabilities.
The capability to edit posts is already available on rival social networks, and Facebook has allowed its users to edit photo updates and their comments on other people's updates for some months.
However the lack of notifications means that users who may have liked an innocuous post, such as "I love my cat", could find their name beside a post which says something entirely different, or even offensive.
"The latest update from Facebook to allow editing of posts after they have been published raises some real concerns amongst individuals I know and business clients of mine," Kieran Hannon, director of social media consultancy eSocialMedia, told the BBC.
"A like or a comment made on a previously static piece of content is now open to misinterpretation - a fact that many less informed users are currently unaware of.
"The opportunity to 'stitch up' friends or foes on Facebook has increased dramatically."
Updates that are modified are marked as edited.
A history of the edits made is available for users to view.
The editing facility comes after Facebook revealed more than half its users accessed the site on mobile phones, which are more prone to typing errors.
"It's unlikely this will have any impact beyond making it easier to correct spelling mistakes," said Matt Owen, of digital business specialists Econsultancy.
"If this update allows people to stay in control of their social profile, ultimately they will be happier with it and use the product more.
"It's a win-win for both Facebook and its users."
The new edit feature does not yet apply to company pages.
But Mr Hannon says he will be advising his business clients to be cautious.
"It is a concern that a brand could like or comment on a post that is later updated to something that undermines or potentially damages the company's brand," he said.