Facebook is facing another backlash from users and privacy campaigners after announcing it is once again changing its privacy settings.
Up until now Facebook let people hide their profiles in search results using the ‘Who can look up your timeline by name?’ setting, but the social networking site is retiring this feature with almost immediate effect.
The option was removed from the accounts of people who hadn’t enabled it last year, and Facebook has announced it is removing the feature from everyone else’s accounts starting from now.
Sean Walsh, head of social media and content for Blue Claw told MailOnline: ‘In a world where privacy is significant issue for many users, this is a massive step backwards for Facebook and may contribute to even more users quitting the site.’
Twitter user RisaJoyyy tweeted: ‘Just realised @facebook changed privacy settings so anyone can message me. I’m so annoyed with their lack of concern for user privacy/safety.
While Nygenxer added the changes highlighted ‘yet another privacy setting lost; good news for stalkers. Don’t. Use. Facebook.’
The ‘Who can look up your Timeline by name?’ feature was applied when people searched for someone’s profile using Facebook’s search bar.
Depending on the setting chosen, the profile was either completely hidden from everyone who wasn’t already a Facebook friend; could only be seen by friends of friends or was only visible to certain groups or networks of people.
According to Facebook’s chief privacy officer, Michael Richter: ‘The setting was created when Facebook was a simple directory of profiles and it was very limited.
‘It didn’t prevent people from navigating to your Timeline by clicking your name in a story in News Feed, or from a mutual friend’s Timeline.’
He added that following the launch of Facebook’s Graph Search last year, which lets people find more specific details about site members, it’s important for users to be able to control the privacy of the information shared, rather than how people get to their timeline.
With Graph Search, people can now search for ‘users that like rock music in Seattle’, for example, or ‘vegetarians in Swansea.’
Facebook ultimately wants people to take greater control over the individual pieces of personal data they share on the site, not just the overall profile.
According to Walsh: ‘The launch of Graph Search Facebook is no longer content with being ‘just a social network’ and wants to rival the likes of Google and Bing in the search market.
‘The difference for Facebook is that whilst Google and Bing have a plethora of website data, Facebook has the majority of real-use information.
‘It knows where you went on holiday, who your past relationships were with, even what brands and TV shows you like. By making this data more accessible and removing privacy barriers, Facebook can make Graph Search more attractive to potential advertisers.’
Nick McAleenan, a media law expert from JMW Solicitors continued: ‘Facebook is clearly trying to close a privacy loophole as people are increasingly aware of their privacy rights. However, the trend we are seeing is actually for people to share more and more info about themselves – Twitter being perhaps the best example of this.’
source: Dailymail UK