Facebook Users Can No Longer Hide From Search

The company announced on Thursday that it is removing the setting "Who can search for me by name?" for everybody.

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.

Facebook quietly announced it was axing that feature for people who weren’t already using it in December. Today, the company announced it will take it away from everybody else in the coming weeks.

In a blog post, Facebook wrote the feature "was created when Facebook was a simple directory of profiles and was very limited" and made "Facebook’s search feature feel broken at times," for example when someone searched for a personal acquaintance and came up empty.

But search also wasn’t as important to Facebook when it first began offering the privacy setting as it has become with the introduction of Facebook Graph Search, a feature that dredges up people, places, photos, and, as of recently, status updates from the service’s archive. Having unsearchable profiles would not make Graph Search any better. And so the setting, which was discontinued for most people before the launch of Graph Search, seems to have never applied to profile content discovered through the new feature.

Facebook acknowledges as much in its blog post, but frames it as a privacy concern: "Today, people can also search Facebook using Graph Search (for example, ‘People who live in Seattle,’) making it even more important to control the privacy of the things you share rather than how people get to your timeline."

The consolation? You can't be invisible to Facebook search anymore, but you can limit the visibility of all past posts.

[Image: Flickr user Eddi 07- Free Stock]

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15 Comments

  • dgswife

    If you think about it. That is not a safety feature. What are they gonna delete next our ability to block people?

  • Tony

    People should realize that this is the most updated database that has govierno in these times, that what we do and use it as a hobby, for them is a vital tool, let them know our private life, our circle of friends, where we were a while ago and we ate there, in short everything and the worst is that you provide voluntarily.

  • cj

    Like I said above, try Zurker. I think you will find them the best alternative and your info will not be kept in a database.

  • Tony

    La gente deverian darce cuenta que esta es la base de datos mas actualizada que tiene govierno en estos momento, que esto que nosotros hacemos y usamos como pasatiempo, para ellos es una herramienta vital, les dejamos saber nuestra vida privada, nuestro circulo de amigos, donde estuvimos hace un rato y que comimos alli, en fin todo y lo peor es que se lo proveemos de forma voluntaria.

  • windyspirit

    This is a stupid policy FACEBOOK. We have a choice to be in the public eye or not.

  • CJ

    You might want to join the new club on the block where such things do not happen and your data is not saved. Zurker is the first truly democratic safe social network. Check it out.

  • sanguiseritmeus

    I'm not buying it for a second – nice try. Any social network, any online activity that you post on any of them is always then a matter of public record, check the terms of use.

  • sanguiseritmeus

    Lol - what a mature response. You should have added a "NEENER NEENER" at the end.