Silicon Valley — In a formal statement to Facebook’s userbase and shareholders, Mark Zuckerberg now insists that Facebook didn’t actually store millions of users’ passwords in readable format, and that their early-week disclosure of the mistake was “just part of the joke.”

“It was a fake list! Come on, of course we wouldn’t store your logins without encrypting them,” said Zuckerberg, several days after the company self-reported a major security misstep. “Yep, just a prank. So to any hackers out there, don’t even bother trying to use any. I mean, you can try if you want to waste your time. But I’d save myself the embarrassment and just forget about the whole thing.”

This particular comment came as a shock to many, as the original statement included an assurance that none of the passwords had actually been accessed, in spite of the security mishap or the fact that any of Facebook’s thousands of employees could have easily searched for and found them.

“Did I say that? You guys really shouldn’t take everything I say so seriously.”

The CEO seemed to stand by his decision, even when asked why he would joke about such a thing in the first place, given Facebook’s history of data breaches. “Yeah, it’s funny because it’s happened before! It’s like, ‘Hey, remember that one time some hackers found a vulnerability in our security systems and got into a few people’s personal info? Remember how freaked out we all were?’ But we’re past that now! We can laugh about it! Ha-ha, see?”

In the two years since Russia leveraged Facebook apps to access sensitive user data, the social media giant has made great efforts to tighten security and increase transparency. In this case, what appeared to be an honest admittance of compromised privacy may have just been an ill-timed but well-intentioned gag. “If I had known you were all so gullible, I wouldn’t have played this prank — which this whole thing was, one hundred percent. Fooled you, didn’t I?”

“Gotcha!” – Mark Zuckerberg

Although the joke didn’t go over as well as he expected, Zuckerberg pointed out a silver lining. “The good news here is we’re talking about data security again. There’s a dialogue. Conversation. And you know what? Since we’re on the subject, everybody go ahead and change your passwords right now. It’s just good to do every now and then, you know? Do it now.”

He added, “But just to clarify to any hackers who for some reason believe they may have obtained a list of say, 80 million plain-text passwords, there’s really no reason to think any of them would actually work, so you might as well delete them. Don’t waste your time.”

Good one, Zuck!