Lack of Facebook “hide from search results” no reason to panic

Jan 18, 2013
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Lack of Facebook “hide from search results” no reason to panic

This week we're hearing a lot of talk about how the upcoming Graph Search inside Facebook will be un-privatizing us once again - let's talk about why that's not true. In a report in Ars Technica they note how once Graph Search is turned on for the masses, information you'd previously had hidden from search results will become public. There's also a post on Quartz citing a segment in the Facebook Privacy Policy which interprets a "hiding from timeline" note as Facebook admitting it wont hide anything no matter how hard you try - that's simply not true.

The note that this talk all comes from is in an update to the Facebook Privacy Policy made public on December 11h, 2012. This update notes some specifications and clarifications on how the Facebook Timeline works since basically everyone in the Facebook universe is now up and running with that interface. Have a peek and see what you make of it:

"When you hide things on your timeline, like posts or connections, it means those things will not appear on your timeline. But, remember, anyone in the audience of those posts or who can see a connection may still see it elsewhere, like on someone else’s timeline or in search results. You can also delete or change the audience of content you post." - Facebook Privacy Policy as sited by Quartz

Both Ars and Quartz refer back to a phone interview done between Nick Bilton and Facebook's Sam Lessin in which Lessin said that "one-single digit percentage of users" had worked with Facebook's original ability to "hide themselves on Facebook's search." Because 1% of Facebook's users is somewhere in the tens of millions of people, the one single fantasy "hide me" button's disappearance became the main subject.

In fact, you are still able to hide yourself from Facebook search, and not just by deleting your account entirely (which is always an option, of course). What you're able to do right this minute - aside from the collection of Privacy assurances and how-to demos given by Facebook earlier this week - is to go to your Privacy Settings and Tools tab and check it out: "Who can see my stuff?" and "Who can look me up?" the both of them.

You can change "Who can see your future posts" to "Only Me", go to your Activity Log and cut out everyone on everything you've ever done, and "Limit The Audience for Old Posts on Your Timeline" with a single button - that's limited to your Friends, mind you. You can update "Who can look be up" from "Everyone" to Friends only, and you can un-check "Let other search engines link to your timeline." If you do all of these things (however inconvenient it is to do several tasks here instead of just one), your visibility will indeed be limited to those you've connected to as Friends on Facebook. Make it work!


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