Coming to Facebook is a new change in privacy management that removes the ability to hide your profile from searches based on your email or phone number. This change also seems to be removing the option to de-index your profile from Google and other search engines. Facebook announced in a press release that this change will affect all users currently on the service and will be rolled out in “the coming weeks.” Leading up to the change, the social megalith will be sending out periodic reminders to users informing them. There is no option to stay tied into this legacy setting, the only choice is to accept it or delete your account.
Facebook states that only a small fraction of its users currently change this setting from its default. According to the Associated Press the exact numbers were not given, only a range from 1% to 9% of the Facebook user base. When considering the touted 1.2 billion users that Facebooks claims, even 1% is a substantial 12 million that this change is affecting. Further emphasis was put on the fact that this was an older feature and can now be replaced by new privacy settings that control who your data is visible to once they find your profile. As a result Facebook’s Chief Privacy Officer, Michael Richter, feels that removing this privacy control is the next step forward in stream-lining the Facebook experience.
If you’re a teacher and trying to hide your Facebook profile from your students, that just became more difficult. If you have inquisitive parents that you would like to hide your Facebook profile from, that just became more difficult. Of course all of this assumes that you are one the 12 to 108 million people that have your profile set to only be found by “friends” or “friends of friends”. As Facebook put it, this is “making it even more important to control the privacy of the things you share.”
The privacy strategy now is no longer to try to hide your profile, rather it is to hide the content on your profile. To do this you can visit Facebook’s privacy settings for your account and change the “Who can see my stuff?” section. This arguably may offer more privacy control than simply removing your profile from search results.
There are two settings in particular worth noting. The first is for limiting who can see content that already exists on your profile, or in other words “old posts on your timeline.” Facebook has implemented a button for globally changing the privacy of all your past timeline posts to “friends only.” The setting cannot be reversed once activated, however old posts can be manually marked one at a time to any privacy setting the user desires. Messages can also be deleted using the bulk delete tool.
The other setting to keep an eye on is regarding future posts and content. The default for visibility can be changed from Public to Friends only. Changing the defaults here may be a wise decision that way personal content may not be accidentally posted for the world to see. Now that anyone can find your account, privacy management on Facebook is more important than ever.