Facebook Privacy Setting That Hid Users From Searches Removed

Friday, 11 Oct 2013 09:05 AM

By Clyde Hughes

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Facebook is removing a privacy feature that allowed users to hide from search, saying the feature confused users and that other features could better serve customers.

While the hide feature is being removed, Facebook said, users still have control over who can see content posted to their site and protect information.

"The best way to control what people can find about you is to choose the audience of the individual things you share," said Michael Richter, chief privacy officer of Facebook, in a message posted Thursday.

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"In the coming weeks, people who are sharing posts publicly on Facebook will also see a notice reminding them that those posts can be seen by anyone, including people they may not know. The notice reminds people how to change the audience for each post."

While the move could create more privacy concerns with the popular social media website, Facebook said the move will end confusion between people were at times in the same Facebook group but could not find each other through search because of the application, according to Gigaom.com.

"The feature, called 'Who can look up your Timeline by name?' was removed from privacy settings last year for those who didn't have it enabled," wrote Lauren Hockenson, of Gigaom.com. "When enabled, the setting removes the ability for users to access a Timeline profile via search, even when a user puts in the exact name of the person he or she is locating."

Facebook said users with the feature enabled will start to receive removal notices, indicating that they will be present and visible in Graph Search along with the rest of the Facebook user base.

Josh Constine, of Tech Crunch, said that while the hide feature did not help user's privacy because they could have been found other ways, Facebook should do more to protect users from strangers.

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"Keeping this privacy option around gave people a false sense of security. For that reason, it’s wise for Facebook to remove it," Constine said on his Tech Crunch blog Thursday. "But it should have provided an ever stronger universal privacy control for opting out of search, not a slew of weaker ones."

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