Yesterday, Facebook announced that they “are making limited public search listings available to people who are not logged in to Facebook. ” What does this mean exactly? It means that any Tom, Dick or Harry on the internet who can type in a search bar and hit “Search” might be able to find your Facebook listing and poke you, send you a message, see your profile picture, and view your friends list.
This is not so cool. I am not impressed. First Facebook opened registration to everyone who wants to sign up – but it was still a ‘closed network’ to the rest of the online world and gave the illusion of security. It must be secure if you need to login before you can see anything, right? Yes and no. We gave all of our information to Facebook. Do you know the guys who run FB? I don’t. I don’t know anyone who does. How about all of those checkboxes you have to ensure are selected before you can add an app? Have you thought about what they mean? They mean that you are giving all of your information to the creators of the app, whoever they may be. Whatever they may use your information for.
I know I’m a hypocrite. I use Facebook every day. I have a couple of apps on my profile (one being the WordPress app). I wasn’t too concerned, because I’ve been very selective with the apps I’ve added, and so far I’ve had no reason to mistrust Facebook – until my boss pointed out this fact to me at work today:
BY DEFAULT, YOUR PROFILE IS ACCESSIBLE BY SEARCH ENGINES.
Now, Facebook is no more ‘secure’ than Myspace. It makes sense though, doesn’t it? Do you know anyone who would say “why yes, I’d love my Facebook profile to be available from [insert search engine here]!!” I’m sure they are out there (like those Facebookers who use their profiles as marketing tools), but it’s not your average user.
As soon as you are done reading this post, go login to your Facebook profile. Click “privacy” in the upper right hand corner. Click on “Edit Settings” for “Search”. If you do nothing else, at least make your profile unaccessible by search engines.
If this information hasn’t compelled you to take any action, I ask you: What does your profile picture look like? Do you look like someone that you would consider ’employable’ by a respectable company?
If your answer is ‘no’, please realize that a potential employer is very likely to search for you in Google, or in Facebook. Now go change your privacy settings.