Facebook to open Profiles to Search Engines

Facebook logoI used to remember the days when Facebook was open strictly to college students and the only way you can sign up with Facebook was if you had a .edu email address.

This then expanded to include high school students, then students and then opened up to everyone. When one looks at it from the perspective of Facebook, it all makes sense. Facebook has quickly grown to become the darling of social networking sites and has become hugely popular, more than MySpace which has become a social junkie place now. Another reason why Facebook is better than MySpace any day are the number of privacy options you have in Facebook unlike MySpace or Orkut where anyone can browse through your profile, see what your friends have to say about you, view your friends list and also view their detailed profiles.

Now, in an announcement that will likely anger the privacy advocates and most of the Facebook community, Facebook has announced that it will allow users of search engines such as Google to search for Facebook members. A month from now, when anyone searches for you on Google or any other search engines, they can see a search result from Facebook with a thumbnail picture of you from your profile page. Besides this, the search result will also contain links showing you options on how you can interact with the Facebook member you just searched for. This will most likely include a link asking you to sign up at Facebook and give you an option to add that Facebook member as your friend.

Facebook engineer Phil Fung, writing in a company blog, said:

“We’re expanding search so that people can see which of their friends are on Facebook more easily. The public search listing contains less information than someone could find right after signing up anyway, so we’re not exposing any new information, and you have complete control over your public search listing.”

“We think this will help more people connect and find value from Facebook without exposing any actual profile information or data. As always, if you do not want your public search listing to be visible to people searching from outside of Facebook, you can control that from the Search Privacy page.”

Fung added that users will only appear in searches outside Facebook when their search settings are set to “Everyone”.