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Summary:

Facebook is following through on a year-old announcement to retire a search privacy feature. Users will no longer be able to hide their profile from search.

Facebook
photo: Corbis / Brooks Kraft

Facebook on Thursday announced the final phase of removing an old privacy feature from the social media platform. The feature, which allows users to be hidden from search, will finally be taken away for users who have it enabled.

The feature, called “Who can look up your Timeline by name?” was removed from Privacy settings last year (noted in a December blog post) for those who didn’t have it enabled. When enabled, the setting removes the ability for users to access a Timeline profile via search, even when a user puts in the exact name of the person he or she is locating. Now, users that still have that feature enabled will begin to see removal notices from Facebook, indicating that they will be present and visible in Graph Search along with the rest of the Facebook user base.

Facebook says in the blog post that the feature is a vestigial precaution that reaches back before the platform had a sophisticated search algorithm. When Facebook search acted as a mere directory, removing oneself from search made it more difficult for strangers to access a given profile. But now, as Open Graph opens up to search more settings and there is greater visibility of Timelines for friends of friends, the importance of finding a person through search has diminished while controlling the content on any given Timeline has become more important. Facebook says that the feature also caused hiccups in the user experience:

“People told us that they found it confusing when they tried looking for someone who they knew personally and couldn’t find them in search results, or when two people were in a Facebook Group and then couldn’t find each other through search.”

Of course, the sunsetting of this feature for those who care about it the most only stresses the importance of checking and updating Facebook privacy settings often. Now, it’s more important to consider the content of the Timeline itself: a “private Timeline” is only such when content is marked explicitly “Friends Only.” As Facebook continues to make search easier, it’s important to keep in mind how these changes impact social media privacy at large.

  1. Yep, I’m glad that I don’t have a facebook account anymore. Recently I have been using a new social network called Ravetree that doesn’t have ads and doesn’t violate my privacy. They actually give me the freedom to choose whether or not I want to be searchable. I highly recommend checking them out.

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  2. Try Ravetree instead of facebook if you want true privacy.

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  3. oops, sorry. It didn’t appear that my first comment went through. Didn’t mean to post twice!

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  4. I deleted my facebook account and I’m not even here to peddle a competitor. I just think the company no longer has any of my interests in mind so I’m happy to part ways with them.

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  5. Let’s see them find me after I deactivate!!!

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  6. ridiculous – might as well hand over everyones personal information

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  7. People can only see what you put up on Facebook. If you want to keep something private, don’t post it on Facebook – or anywhere on the Internet for that matter.

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  8. FacebookGoSplat Friday, October 11, 2013

    It’s the insidious rewriting of terms of service that through trickery, bind people to dynamic contracts, where the individual has zero input into a business agreement.

    Over time, the individual doesn’t even know what the agreement is.

    This is where our lawmakers should be stepping in and writing laws that regulate these coercive, morphing terms of service agreements.

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