120 thoughts on “Facebook Opens Up To Public Search”

  1. Facebook has excellent privacy settings and knows that a privacy is the killer feature of the application. Compare the granularity of the facebook privacy settings to MySpace or Orkut. Orkut for example is a horrible offender in terms of private detail visibility. Also the details available through search engine would anyway appear to any digital stalker who would find it easy enough to create an account. As things stand today, putting a photo on Facebook is a little more safer than putting it in flickr ..

    The Digital Litter is a serious problem of our connected life, but more than facebook, the search engines are to blame. The only way to avoid the loss of online privacy is active policing of ones digital presence. Easier said than done and great idea for a startup to make tools to allow active policing.

  2. hardline facebookers will take umbrage, but with “new” (read older) users almost equal in number to FB’s college aged base – this might be ok. Americans don’t care about the Patriot Act or illegal domestic wiretapping — having old friends or potential employers finding us online isn’t that big of a deal. Another sign that people search is becoming an essential part of the web.

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  5. This is going to do wonders to Facebooks market reach. It’s basically being indexed for every user it has (provided they don’t opt out). Thats millions of people advertising for Facebook.

  6. If they are going to do that, which benefits them, they should allow people to expose more of their profiles, such as extended links, so that members could benefit from search crawling on their facebook profile.

  7. As a frequent Facebook user (embarrassing), it is apparent to me that the only people who have their profile setting configured in such a way that everyone can see their profile are narcissistic enough to secretly like that they can be searched for and found. This will cause some stir with college kids, but as is the norm with that set it will die down in a week .

  8. Like everything else in life, you have to weigh the upside against the downside. Sure, a bad guy can find me more easily. But so can good guys, many of whom I had no idea were looking for me. I think it’s wonderful how ancient friends and acquaintances are able to find me now thanks to my online trail.

    At least with Facebook I have some control over what everyone sees about me. That’s not necessarily true of much of the web.

  9. Also, if you joined Facebook to help promote a product, or a book in my case, then it will be a boost to have more people find you. Besides, there is nothing on Facebook that is not readily available by doing a Google search, at least for me.

  10. I joined Facebook in June and connected with close friends. Back then I used to visit FB several times a day. Then my work colleagues became my facebook friends – which was cool. But then about a month ago – company executives became my facebook friends. Now I check it every few weeks. This news about public search makes me even more reluctant about using FB. Not a good move.

    • Pandu
      @ htttp://www.fewtureweb.com
  11. “erosion of personal privacy”….well put. I dont like this idea at all!!! scenario: people are going to roll up to google.com, search for something, find my page with all my pics and stuff, and there goes my privacy! well it better not be that easy. i used to be able to deny a friend request from a random person on facebook, why even bother now?


  12. It is a natural progression to open Facebook to the web, although much of what is published is not very information oriented, it is an enormous amount of content and will certainly attract a large volume of traffic to the site.

  13. “I pride my self on not having information about me on the internet.”

    that’s really great. and how’s that working out for you, jason? how’s life in new hampshire? do you like it better than brookline?

    what about that WMP54GS router you use? did you ever get it working with your OpenBSD setup?


  14. It’s a non-issue really seeing as you can opt out, but also isn’t part of the reason for social networks to allow people to find you? Say if I wanted to find an old school friend, is it better that I have to sign up to every one of the netowrk sites out there to find them, or that I can google their name and find them straight away. If they don’t want to be found they can change their privacy settings.

    It’s not much different from having your name and address in the telephone directory really, just that it’s online so it must be evil…

    1. Tom saw your blip,question for a computer dummy like me. How do I find an old buddy who perhaps love in Min,Min? put in my e-mail address. they asked for a site. What is that

  15. “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.”

    Illusion is the crucial word here. Facebook has always been pretty open about the fact that they would go public with at least some information about their users and their profiles.What makes this even scarier, is the fact that Facebook collects and stores quite a lot of information, not only about their users, but also about their contacts. In their so-called “privacy” policy, Facebook states that “Facebook may also collect information about you from other sources, such as newspapers, blogs, instant messaging services, and other users of the Facebook service through the operation of the service”. In the terms of use, they go even further: “By posting User Content to any part of the Site, you automatically grant[…]to the Company an irrevocable, perpetual, […] worldwide license (with the right to sublicense) to use, copy, publicly perform, publicly display, reformat, translate, excerpt […]and distribute such User Content for any purpose […]to prepare derivative works of, or incorporate into other works, such User Content, and to grant and authorize sublicenses of the foregoing.”

    How is that for a bleak picture?

  16. Whatever personal information you decide to deposit in a database that is neither owned or managed by yourself will always be potentially accessible to anyone.

    I have to ask, do you people leave your windows and doors unlocked when you go to bed, or your personal details displayed on a public notice board?

    Your details are PERSONAL, keep them that way.

  17. Perhaps I’m missing something, but I really don’t see the big deal here. When I logged in to Facebook today, there was a big box explaining the new public search feature and clearly explained how to change privacy settings. If Facebook didn’t offer the privacy settings for this public search, I could see why this would be a big deal. But, they do and you can completely opt-out. One of the options says: “Allow my public search listing to be indexed by external search engines.” Unless you check that box- you’re not going to get indexed. For me at least, this is a complete non-issue and I’m not quite sure why others are making such a big deal out of it?

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  19. People search within Facebook is bad enough.. try finding the right John Smith or Mike Chen… Common names return too many results.

    Transpose this to Google which only returns a maximum of 2 results (indented and dependent on link structure – for the SEO geeks) and the John Smith with the most inbound links will be returned.

    Luckily there arn’t too many Paul Reillys out there.



    Paul Reilly

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  21. I can’t help but feel that Facebook (and Google) is only taking baby steps until everyone becomes fully comfortable with this gradual erosion of privacy. In a way, George Orwell was right after all. It all depends on how evil the corporations become.

  22. Wow, I can’t believe such a biased article got featured on the BBC news site.

    As many before me have mentioned, you can opt out of this searching, so what’s the big deal?

    Just a sensationalist blog post that would be ideally suited to the Daily Mirror.

  23. Im new with facebook but I have existing blogs and travel sites which are also searchable thru google or yahoo searches. Well, it is quite easier for friends to find me or to promote my site. I also maintain the high level of privacy in my 6 blogs/consumer sites, including facebook, so this is not scary at all.

  24. Also be aware that FB is not that secure as it stands now. Only a couple of days ago I was fooling around and it was a mere matter of finding someone (anyone) with an open account, click on there socialfeed and hey presto, all there socialfeed stuff came up. I wasn’t even there friend. Then I just swapped out there user id in the url (the 9 digit number) for another user I wanted to stal.. er view, and up came there socialfeed as well. Mind you is was all bollocks. So and so sent so and so a beer, whatshis name sent Jo Blogs a candy cane, christ is there any realy useful api’s on facebook. I know I’ll never be president ’cause I just know someone someday is gonna find out I like the Dixie Chicks.

  25. I have set my privacy settings, and I had one of my friends who is not on facebook try and find me, and he could not…so as long as you set your privacy settings correctly, I think it’s ok.

  26. Note that you still can keep your privacy settings so that only friends see your profile.
    And Facebook is encouraging you to adjust your settings in such a way.

    I think it is a smart move for Facebook in many ways, and a not-so smart move in others.
    I like the move – but that’s just me.

  27. Why are so many people in this world ready to blatantly give up their personal privacy online FOR FUN (of all reasons!) and in the process make others multimillionaires and billionaires?

  28. It’s hardly an erosion of privacy. Facebook gives you the option to make yourself public, and I’ve been reconnected to a lot of old friends because of it.
    A true erosion of privacy would be facebook making you messages and comments searchable on the internet, for instance.

  29. If you don’t want your private details to be in the public domain, don’t type them into those little boxes on the webpages!

    The moment you click on SUBMIT you have surrendered some of your privacy. But it’s always your choice.

  30. If you dont like social networks…dont use them…problem solved. You can keep your privacy!

    I dont use facebook but I do use a different social network, and I post what I dont mind other people viewing. If I do have somehting I want to keep private, I’ll go about doing that some otherway, through text SMS or email.

  31. For those concerned about Digital Litter – stop using online social networking sites – its not as if you HAVE to use them!!

    It really is that simple, but seems not so for the millions who only seem to use such sites just because its the ‘IN’ thing.

    So – in short, if you want privacy, stop putitng yourself onto public sites!!!

  32. I’ve configured my privacy settings so that I am not viewable on public search. What concerns me though, is that even though users are given 1 month’s notice- the system is opt-out rather than opt-in.

  33. Yeah… I think I’m pretty sure I”m deleted my facebook account after this. Even if I have boosted up privacy settings, it’s only a matter of time before they change it again to make everyone more accessible, and ruin the privacy. (Let’s add high schools! Let’s add businesses! Let’s not even make people have a network!) It’s getting ridiculous.

  34. i’ve had qualms with Facebook since day one. i’m a fan of MySpace myself, which i know is still a social network that divulges info – and i know that MySpace pages do come up in Google searches – but considering MySpace tends to unite strangers and Facebook tends to unite old classmates, etc. i always find it easier to be anonymous and ‘unfound’ on MySpace.

  35. I agree. This is yet another erosion of privacy. Part of the appeal of Facebook was precisely the ability to create a private social network and to be able to choose how much information one wanted to make public.

  36. Om, I agree with your assessment on how Facebook will play this, especially as it pertains to pursuing the reputation management angle.

    Specific to the topic of security, I read a great book some time back called The Transparent Society by David Brin, and a fundamental premise of the book is that there is a choice between privacy and transparency.

    The privacy choice is about trying to protect and maintain security of information so that only the authorities have access to private information. The transparency choice is about making everything transparent and pushing tools down to the consumer so that we all have access to the same information and presumably better tools to manage that information.

    Simple example: video cameras pop up on streets everywhere. This is a seeming inevitable trend. Are you better served by having a private company having access to that data, knowing the poor record of protection and accountability seen with financial companies handling of credit card, social security and like data? Are you better served having only the police have access, knowing the breakdown of personal liberties since 911?

    Or, would YOU like to have access to that data so you can see if someone is lurking around the corner?

    Framing this paradox, there is an interesting company called Lifelock whose president touts their identity protection service by running his social security number in the ad.

    Pretty interesting fork between privacy and transparency.

    Keep up the good work!


    My Blog: http://www.thenetworkgarden.com

  37. Facebook isn’t the only social network on the web. It may be the most talked about today. This doesn’t make Facebook the whitepages of the web? There are a hundred million more profiles on MySpace than on Facebook. The real white pages of the web come from sites like http://www.yoName.com, Wink, Pipl and others.

  38. has anyone heard of this new social networking site – Capazoo.com? I hear it was started by a couple brothers – Michel Verville and Luc Verville. Anyone?

  39. “You could be assured that what was in Facebook remained in Facebook.”
    Where on EARTH did you get this impression from? Did you ever read their Privacy policy? What utter nonsense – Facebook weren’t ever in it for you – Facebook are in it for Facebook. Naive in the extreme.

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  41. On the privacy front, you can’t have your cake and eat it too! Social networks, by their nature, allow your fellow citizens to find and interact with you. Many seem to forget that Facebook is a business and is not the property of its users. Use it with Facebook’s policies and procedures or abandon it for the next thing to appear on the social networking front. As Kent said in a previous post, the option to lock down your privacy is there to use – “…people who have their profile setting configured in such a way that everyone can see their profile are narcissistic enough to secretly like that they can be searched for and found”. This is a non-issue!

  42. I had left my facebook profile open deliberately so that anyone else in the network could search for me and see if they want to read my stuff / connect.

    With that in mind – the google announcement scared the hell out fo me as I don’t want people finding me through a search engine, even by accident.

    Two things spring to mind:
    1 – how confident are we that the privacy settings will be 100% watertight with google?
    2 – a lot of people might not even know about this change or how to change their privacy setting…

  43. I visited my account today and I already changed my settings. Facebook anticipated that members will enquire this privacy link and it is quite manageable to update it. I think every member will be notified thru their accounts about these changes. To have a peace of mind, I suggest that try not to put confidential or private info in your profile like mailing address, mobile phones, etc. or just your close friends have access on these details.

  44. absolutely fine by me. all people can see is my name and photo. im sure 90% of people have more info on them available on other sites anyway. at least on FB you have absolute control over what people see. this is again, blown waaaay out of proportion!

  45. If Facebook was giving 30 days for people to reset their privacy options, why has my Facebook account name and the associated email address already been acquired by RapLeaf AS OF SEPTEMBER 5TH? After stupidly checking my email addresses on Rapleaf last week, I received an email yesterday from Rapleaf telling me that someone (probably me) had searched my email address. They had my full real name and listed Facebook as one of my social networks. I changed my Facebook privacy settings as soon as the announcement came out. Alas, it’s too late. Luckily, the email in question is not my primary.

    I should note that I’ve also noticed an increase in the amount of spam coming to this account in the past week. Is this related? I think so. Also, I should mention that unlike Paul Reilly who posted earlier, my facebook account does not come up on Google.

  46. facebook could make our worst dreams of Microsoft come true. Thankfully MSFT is geeky, not loveable and Passport never took off, so it remains but a platform. In stark contrast facebook users LIVE & LOVE inside the facebook app and its gaggle of third-party widgets. facebook is not a platform – nobody lives inside a platform – but an app is a different beast altogether. It makes you feel…at home. And at home you open up everything. You think only your roommates see/hear you, but just like in college, this ain’t the real world because all (most of) the economic activity is OUTSIDE of facebook, in the Ad-embedded widgets that come in from OUTSIDE this world. And that is where the slippery slope lies.

    The real danger is not the public listing – it is after all only a couple of small details. The devil is in what their privacy policy states like pointed out above in another post. In order to continuously grow facebook, people’s privacy will be eroded to feed the Ad-embedded Widget beast. Users will be encouraged to live their lives as though in a personality contest, and enticed to reveal more and more. Fish in a fishbowl dont lead meaningful social lives.

    facebook is a social utility – NOT a social eco-system. People forget that in order to run a healthy society you also need an economic basis. Although it’s really convenient to have a single sign-on to a cool club, it’s far more scalable to belong to a city-state that can sustain itself socio-economically. And that is only possible if people can live multi-faceted lives in the same place, e.g. being a part-time student, a realtor, parent, etc. – simultaneously. Diversity is how we get the right checks in place, promote learning, and thereby accrue ever increasing value as we develop various facets to our personality. It’s not just about revealing more, it is about developing more that is worthy of reveal!

    What the world really needs is socio-economic networking, not just social networking.

  47. If facebook dont be careful they will lose there people on facebook, who wants there information worldwide, no one, and if we cant haev privacy well i will close out my account and so will many others as well

  48. I think that this is just the tip of the iceberg when looking at up and coming conflicts between Web entrepreneurs and the general public. Oddly, the more our privacy becomes fragile, that is, the more diffused and diverse our personal info becomes on the Web, the more powerful the tools for processing that information can become, and so the more potentially lucrative the manipulation of that information will be. If this is true, it’s the markets that dictate that we will further continue to lose control of our public identities, up until some future yet-undetermined breaking point. In the meantime, we’d all be wise to watch our steps. Is submitting this comment really such a good idea?

  49. 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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  51. 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.

  52. 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.


  54. 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.


  55. 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.



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