Facebook opening up public profiles to search engines

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facebook_public_profile.gifLog in to your Facebook profile (of course you have one) and you may see a new alert letting you know that you could soon have a “public search listing”.

Facebook’s developers yesterday announced that they’d be opening up publicly-available member profile information to the likes of Google and other search engines, and allowing non-members to search for people from the front page of Facebook.

All users have a choice over whether their listings are accessible in this way, by altering their privacy settings. However, given recent member stupidity, that’s easier said than done. A lot of Facebook users, it has to be said, are more interested in adding bizarre applications and letting their personal information spread itself all over the place, rather than limiting their profiles.

Having said that, public profiles will only contain a name and a listing of friends, plus the ability to poke or add friends, so there’s not a real security issue. You can still let every Facebook member find you but block search engines.

No doubt some groups will spring up casting damnation on the Facebook developers for this travesty, particularly as the search engine option is ON by default, and there’s just a month to decide to turn it off — but for the rest of us, it seems fair enough that the few people left in the world without a Facebook profile can find us.

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Andy Merrett