I’m one of the many people who doesn’t like some of the recent changes to Facebook’s default privacy settings, and I agree completely with Anil Dash that if those defaults aren’t good enough for Mark Zuckerberg, then maybe they should be changed.
However, I think I’ve discovered a way to participate on Facebook with my friends and still be completely hidden from the web, even more so than in the past, but I need your help to figure out what’s going on.
A couple of days ago, by pure chance I noticed that the public version of my Facebook profile had disappeared from Google’s search results completely. If you’d searched for me in the past, you would have gotten a link to my public profile, which displayed my name, picture, friends list, some groups I belong to, and (I think) some pages I’ve fanned.
After this week’s changes to Facebook’s defaults, however, that profile no longer comes up at all in a search on Google or Bing. In fact, if you’re not logged in to Facebook and you click on a link to my profile with my personal URL (which I assure you does still exist), you’ll get a “page not found” error.
I’ve confirmed this with others, even people who I’m friends with on Facebook. If you’re logged out, there’s no way to get to my profile. My theory is that one of two things is causing this to happen.
- I’ve always been wary of providing Facebook with too much information, so I never filled out any interests.
- A couple of days ago, I went to Facebook to read my feed and got a popup window asking me to link my profile to one of the pages for my high school, college, graduate school, and my city network. I didn’t want to do that, so I clicked on the “ask me later” button, which should mean I’m not part of any networks right now.
I’m sure Facebook thinks it’s punishing me for not participating in its new advertising system, but this is a pretty sweet spot for me to be in because my Facebook account is one of the very few that I truly keep private and where I’m only adding “friends” now (as opposed to anyone who friends me). I get to participate with my friends the way I always have and don’t have to deal with all of the new “like” crud and privacy issues. And I think any true friends can still find me, as I believe that anyone logged in to Facebook can still find my profile. In fact, I think I’m still showing up on other peoples’ “recommendations” sidebar, because I’m still getting friend requests from people I don’t really know.
This is great, and I’m very happy with this setup, inadvertent as I think Facebook meant it to be. I’m also not willing to change it to test what’s causing it, so this is where I need your help. I don’t want to add any interests or link my profile to a network in order to find out if that changes anything, because I may not be able to undo the change. So I’m asking for your help in answering the following questions so that we can all figure out what’s going on. Hopefully those of us who want to be private on Facebook can truly do that now. It would also be helpful to have this information so that we know if/when Facebook figures this out and changes it.
Please leave answers in the comments, and thanks for your help!
- If you’re logged out of Facebook, can you see my profile? http://facebook.com/shifted
- If you’re logged in to Facebook, can you see my profile?
- If you’re not friends with me in Facebook and you can see my profile, what do you see? Please be specific in listing which pieces (eg, name, picture, groups, etc.)
- Does your public profile display in search results?
- If your public profile displays, either when others click on it or in search results, do you have interests listed in your profile?
- Can you completely remove your interests from your profile?
- Have you seen the popup window asking you to link your profile to specific pages/networks?
- If your public profile displays, is your profile linked to any of these pages/networks?
- Can you remove your profile from being linked to any of these pages/networks?
- If you go through these steps of removing interests and links to pages/networks, does that remove your public profile altogether, the way it did mine?
- I’ve also unchecked the box to allow personalization in my privacy settings. If your public profile isn’t displaying, have you done that?
Make sure you uncheck the “allow” box, and if you want even more privacy, change the “Facebook search results” setting to “friends only.” I should also note that I know for a fact this setting either wasn’t there or wasn’t working properly last month, as I had a debate with someone about privacy and looked at my public profile while not logged in, so something definitely changed recently to allow for this level of privacy. What I’m unsure of now is whether that “allow” box is checked by default or not (question #12?). I have to say that if that box is not checked by default, I’m pretty impressed with Facebook’s new stance.
And as Phil noted in his comment, make sure you change the priÂvacy â€“> proÂfile inforÂmaÂtion setÂtings to manÂage what your friends can share about you. Thatâ€™s a really imporÂtant one.
The big deal: It looks like Facebook has indeed changed its stance on privacy and has defaulted the “allow” in the search settings to opt-in, rather than opt-out. I think this is new, and it’s very welcome in my opinion, especially since you can further narrow the “Facebook search results” setting. Has anyone seen that “allow” box checked by default?
If this is true, profiles have disappeared from Google, right? Is this a preemptive move on Facebook’s part to take over people search from Google? I don’t know, but it seems like something has changed.