Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB) apparently wants to make it nearly impossible for users to keep things entirely to themselves and their friends. The social network once had a setting which enabled users to opt out of search listings, meaning those who searched their name wouldn’t be able to find them. But that’s about to change.
Forbes staffer Kashmir Hill reports that the company is in the process of removing this setting entirely.
Facebook started removing it last year
Many celebrities and others who are especially concerned about privacy used the setting, but Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB) took it away last year for those who didn’t use it. Now, however, the social network is removing it for everyone, meaning that even those who prefer to keep their things entirely private won’t be able to do so.
Facebook Chief Privacy Officer Michael Richter said in a blog post that people who currently use the setting will begin seeing notifications that it will be removed over the next few weeks.
Privacy versus tracking capability
Through the years Facebook has almost become a replacement for the white pages, enabling anyone to look up anyone they wanted to. It offers a way to contact anyone with a profile on the network, and now even those who don’t want to be found will be able to be located. As a result, users who search for someone on Facebook now know that if they can’t find the person they’re looking for, then that person really doesn’t have a Facebook profile. Otherwise they’re using the social network under a different name, although Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB) obviously frowns on that.
Facebook said the reason it is removing the feature is because it made its new people search capabilities feel broken. One of the examples the social network uses is two people who were in a Facebook Group together not being able to find each other through search.
The only way to stay private on Facebook
At this point, the only way to limit what information searchers can learn about you is to make sure your settings are limited so that only your friends are able to see what you post. Also it is still possible to block individual users via their email address or name. However, there are obvious loopholes in this one because it’s pretty easy to set up alternate emails.