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A recent move by Facebook to remove a prominent privacy option Facebook Removes Privacy Setting For Timeline Searches Facebook Removes Privacy Setting For Timeline Searches Now, every Facebook user is searchable by anyone else on the social network. Facebook announced that it has removed the privacy setting that allowed users to remain hidden from Timeline searches. Read More has been slammed by many privacy advocates. However, it may be in your best interests as long as you know what to do about it.

Facebook has removed the “Who can look up your Timeline by name?” feature, meaning that anyone who knows your name can now search for you in Facebook. Yes, this sounds like a huge privacy breach, but it’s actually somewhat of a boon. Why? Well, it was broken in the first place.

How Was The Privacy Feature Broken?

Most people who set the “Who can look up your Timeline by name?” feature to just their friends thought honestly that no-one else could find their timeline. However that wasn’t really the case. No-one could SEARCH for your name and find your timeline, however anyone could follow links from comments in the news feed or groups and find their way to your timeline. They could also find your Timeline via useful Facebook Graph searches 6 Cool Things You Can Find With Facebook's New Graph Search Features [Weekly Facebook Tips] 6 Cool Things You Can Find With Facebook's New Graph Search Features [Weekly Facebook Tips] Facebook has just given its graph search another boost, and those who have been upgraded are now able to search post history as well as photo history. What is it good for? Read More , since they were not actually searching for your NAME, merely searching for regular Facebook posts, photos and likes.

So, the whole concept led to people thinking that they had made their privacy settings sufficiently private, only to find that they hadn’t. That’s seriously broken.

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The other problem was that it made it difficult for a person’s actual Facebook friends to use Facebook tools, such as messaging, inviting that person to events and tagging in photos, check-ins, comments or posts. If you knew a person from a group, or were actually friends with them, who had set this setting to a very private setting, it may not have been possible to communicate with them in certain ways.

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Conversely, if you were the person who had used this setting, you may have found that none of your friends ever invited you to events. It wasn’t that they didn’t like you enough: they just couldn’t do it.

So, as a privacy setting, this really had to go. It confused people and it made it difficult for friends to communicate properly within Facebook. So, what now?

Why It’s A Problem

The main problem with removing this privacy feature is that Facebook hasn’t replaced it with anything adequate. For instance, if you are worried that someone is stalking you, Facebook suggests that you block them. This is inadequate for a number of reasons.

Firstly, you can’t (easily) block someone who has already blocked you. To block them, you need to know their profile URL and then tell Facebook staff to manually block them for you. This is difficult if you are unable see their URL merely because they blocked you first.

Secondly, your stalker could easily create another Facebook account and use that to view your timeline. You can’t play whack-a-mole trying to block your stalkers all the time. For this reason, Facebook really does need a way for you to be invisible to all but the friends you find yourself.

What Can You Do?

Well, start by ensuring your timeline’s privacy settings The Top 5 Privacy Tips For Facebook Timeline Applications The Top 5 Privacy Tips For Facebook Timeline Applications If you're a Facebook user, you've probably recently started to use the Facebook timeline on your user page. You've probably also noticed changes such as the ticker feed and new behaviours of open graph applications... Read More are thoroughly locked down, especially with regards to Facebook Graph Search privacy Prepare Your Account Privacy For Facebook Graph Search [Weekly Facebook Tips] Prepare Your Account Privacy For Facebook Graph Search [Weekly Facebook Tips] Every time Facebook releases a new feature to learn more about our friends, many people realise that their privacy settings are not adequate anymore. Their latest new feature, Facebook Graph Search, is no exception -... Read More . You can very quickly limit all of your past posts in your privacy settings.

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Make sure you’ve set everything to “Friends-only” How To Control Your Privacy With The Facebook Timeline How To Control Your Privacy With The Facebook Timeline While the new Facebook timeline looks fantastic, there are a few privacy concerns worth keeping in mind. For most people, certain things will need adjusting before you can be completely sure that your posts aren't... Read More or that you use a custom friends list Using Facebook Friends Lists For Interests Or Circles [Facebook Hack Or Tip Of The Week] Using Facebook Friends Lists For Interests Or Circles [Facebook Hack Or Tip Of The Week] Is Facebook driving you crazy? Most people who use Facebook generally view the home feed in its unfiltered form, which means they're seeing updates from friends, acquaintances and pages all lumped in together and shown... Read More to lock things down to some subset of your friends who you really trust. You will need to go through all of your basic privacy settings, as well as looking through all of your timeline information and Facebook “Likes” Facebook Search Used As An Interpersonal Weapon: What To Watch For [Weekly Facebook Tips] Facebook Search Used As An Interpersonal Weapon: What To Watch For [Weekly Facebook Tips] Facebook has always been an easy way to accidentally expose yourself to unwanted privacy breaches, however with the new Facebook Graph Search it's even easier to get stung. You might think you've locked down your... Read More and updating the privacy for each section individually. There are many things which are public by default, so keep checking until your timeline is just right. Make good use of the “View As” function to see what it looks like to different people so that you are absolutely certain.

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Block the stalker and any of their close friends, just in case the stalker takes a peek using their friends’ accounts. It won’t stop the stalker from creating a new account, but it will stop them inadvertently seeing your more public comments.

Stop commenting publicly. When you comment on a public post, anyone who can see that post can see your comment, whether you know them or not (unless you have blocked them). If a stranger who sees your comment clicks through to your timeline they will only see whatever you’ve made public, but they will still see that comment you made when they view the public post. For the same reason, you may wish to avoid commenting anywhere on Facebook, just in case one of your friends is friends with your stalker (using an account you haven’t blocked). If you are going to be realistic, you could presume that your comments are always public and make sure you never say anything you want kept private. That or essentially go into read-only mode on Facebook Sick Of Facebook? Set Your Account To Read-Only Mode [Weekly Facebook Tips] Sick Of Facebook? Set Your Account To Read-Only Mode [Weekly Facebook Tips] Even if you hate Facebook, there are some very compelling reasons to have an account. Like, for instance the fact that most of your friends probably have accounts. It's tempting to have an account simply... Read More .

Block Tagging

If you were using this setting as a way to stop your friends tagging you, you should perhaps block the tagging properly. Make sure you have set things so that any tags need to be reviewed and approved by you before they are seen by others.

What Do You Think?

What are your thoughts on this change? Do you worry that Facebook is eroding your privacy bit by bit, or are you relieved that your friends and family will no longer use this setting incorrectly, with false expectations of privacy? Tell us in the comments!

Image Credits: Facebook

  1. Carrot
    October 16, 2013 at 10:30 pm

    FB changes the rules as they go along, or so it seems....

    Still, those people without any social network profile will gain currency - in the sense that they retain a certain mystery and allure which others freely gave up. This is assuming that people you know aren't putting up pictures of you, and telling your life story....

    You can't re-invent yourself after FB.

    • Angela A
      October 26, 2013 at 2:24 pm

      That's true, I guess. However, most of the teens I know who want to do this just delete their account and start over. That or they do a thorough clean-out and delete all their data. Takes a while though...

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