Is your Facebook profile set to “unsearchable”?
Pretty soon it won’t make any difference. According to Sarah Kessler at Fast Company, Facebook users can no longer hide from search.
Says Kessler, “There was a time when Facebook users could make themselves ‘unsearchable’ by changing a privacy setting called ‘Who can search for me by name?’ Their accounts would still be visible to people who clicked their names in a News Feed story or on a mutual friends’ timeline, but the random person who they met in a bar the previous evening could not find them using the Facebook search bar.”
That’s now a thing of the past, as Facebook quietly announced it will eliminate the unsearchable option over the coming weeks. The option was removed for anyone not already choosing to use it back in December, but this move takes it off the table completely for, as Facebook labels them, “the small percentage of people still using the setting.”
Privacy advocates are naturally concerned. As Josh Constine of Tech Crunch points out, “For people with stalkers, Facebook may have just gotten a bit more dangerous. Facebook tells me the way to keep a specific person from finding your profile or viewing any of your content is to block them. But what if your stalker just signs up for a fake profile with a new name? Then they could search and find you.”
Facebook’s spin on this is to more tightly control your privacy and sharing settings of each individual thing you post, plus anything previously posted. That’s a lot of potential cracks to slip through.
Users need to understand that posting anything on a social network strips it of any semblance of privacy. It’s out there, searchable, findable and shareable. If that’s not sitting right with you, stop pushing the button. And remember that Facebook is in business to make money, and protecting your privacy is not aligned with their business goals.
Facebook is the new town square, for better and for worse. We’d do well to understand this and post accordingly.