Facebook Opens Up To Public Search

120 Comments

[qi:020] One of the great features of Facebook was privacy. You could be assured that what was in Facebook remained in Facebook. However, that illusion might be ending soon.

Tonight, Facebook launches a “public listing search” which allows anyone to search for a specific person. The company says that the information being revealed through these listings is minimal and much less than the information available to someone logged into the Facebook network. [digg=http://digg.com/tech_news/Facebook_Opens_Up_To_Public_Search]

A public search listing provides, at most, the name and profile picture of any Facebook member that has their search privacy settings set to “Everyone.” It will show less information about a person than results of a search performed by someone logged in to Facebook. We wanted to give people who had never come to Facebook, or who are not currently registered, the opportunity to discover their friends who are on Facebook.

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In a month from now, these public listings are going to be find their way into search engine indexes. “We are giving users approximately one month to set their privacy options before we allow search engines to index these public search listings,” the company spokeswoman wrote in an email.

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This move transforms Facebook from being a social network to being quasi-White Pages of the Web. Every time a non-Facebook user finds someone on Facebook after a “search,” they might feel compelled to sign-up and get more information. It is a virtuous cycle, meant to attract more people to the Facebook network.

This development is going to strike fear in the hearts of entrepreneurs behind people-search startups that have mushroomed in recent months and have raised many millions in venture backing. It is also be a worrisome development for reputation-based systems such as Rapleaf that are creating profiles of people on the web. With the growing database of names, it is only a matter of time before Facebook rolls out a reputation system, and pegs it to an e-commerce engine.

On a more prosaic level, this “public search” move will help goose up the page views nicely – handy metric when trying to tap the public markets.

Think broadly however, this is yet another small step in the overall erosion of personal privacy, thanks to the ever growing popularity of the social networks. I don’t like the direction where all this is headed. Stefanie Olsen in her excellent piece for News.com paints a pretty bleak picture. We are slowly leaving digital litter all over the web, and some day it is going to cause problems.

What are your thoughts?

120 Comments

Nikki May from Web Content Writer

In the past 2 years, Facebook has faced some criticism on a range of issues, mainly data mining and the lack of ability to close accounts without having to first delete all the content. Another issue is that some companies had concerns about their adverts that were being displayed alongside pages of controversial individuals.

Since this piece was written back in 2007, I think that another review, 2 years on, will be great and I think will be of interest to many peple.

Thanks

Nikki

Nikki May from Web Copywriter

In the past 2 years, Facebook has faced some criticism on a range of issues, mainly data mining and the lack of ability to close accounts without having to first delete all the content. Another issue is that some companies had concerns about their adverts that were being displayed alongside pages of controversial individuals.

Since this piece was written back in 2007, I think that another review, 2 years on, will be great and I think will be of interest to many peple.

Thanks

JUNE KERR

LOOKING TO FIND CHARMAINE AND SAMANTHA HARPER LAST KNOWN ADDRESS LONDON BOTH BORN IN EDINBURGH MAY HAVE CHANGED SURNAME.

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I realize the concept of privacy on the internet is a bit of an oxymoron but I’ll be setting my account to private today. I hope Facebook does a good job informing its users about this change and gives them ample opportunity to make the switch.

Thomas Mbulaheni Musekwa

I need my facebook public search listing to be shown as follows:This is Thomas Musekwa ‘s public search listing . And my picture to be shown also through google search.

Joanna Slinky

That’s true. But some dumb people don’t even realise that these pages are ‘spidered’ by search engines, and that those pages can be cached for years, or maybe forever.

For instance, if I admit here that I am a pink aardvark that likes bathing in oxtail soup, then searches in years to come might uncover that… pink + aardvark + soup

I’m blown!

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I think it’s a really nifty thing to do, but again it’s a double-edged sword. It all depends on who the person searching for other people is intent on doing with that info.

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