The next step on Facebook’s staircase to ubiquity further breaks down the site’s once fortress-like barrier, but it may eventually bring in more ad value for F8 app developers.
While the optional opening up of search may seem like an inevitable move, is it so necessary to practically spam every search engine with profiles? By joining the site did you agree to — as Om Malik put it — put your name in a veritable White Pages for the Web?
Facebook’s first “public offering” was last September, when it opened up the site to registrants regardless of their affiliation with a university or high school. Originally a .edu e-mail address was a mandatory prerequisite to register for the site. This, understandably, led to privacy and safety concerns, multiplied by the addition of the now-widely-accepted News Feed, which would broadcast your activities and postings on the site to your friends. Perhaps Facebook is comfortable that one long year of social network growth and adoption — along with a handful of freaky MySpace horror stories — has made the masses more aware of Facebook’s privacy settings.
Only the users name and photo will be accessible via a facebook.com frontpage search, according to Facebook’s Philip Fung, who looks no older than 17 despite being an apparent graduate of both Cal Tech and Stanford. The blog post reminds users that multiple levels of privacy settings can prevent searchability and access — it would also be nice if Facebook sent e-mails to users who may not be logging on regularly.
The big play for Facebook here is opening up to search engines. By exposing the info (presumably just names) of its users (upwards of 30 million and counting), it’s Google Page Rank will skyrocket, and every individual user will find their profile near the top of a name search (something that could very well be a kick in the face of LinkedIn — I was told at one job interview that it was easier to find my LinkedIn profile than to find my resume).
The word “public” alone get the valley and the street even more worked up over the still-privately-held social networking / platform?
Facebook users one year ago perceived — and sudden — impediments on privacy. But this doesn’t seem to be such a big deal — most anyone with their name and photo on facebook most likely has it publicly listed elsewhere. Still, Zuckerberg and Co. should edumacate the masses and continue to be very straightforward about the changes and the various, easily tweaked privacy settings available for each user.
So better tidy up that Facebook profile now, because soon enough it won’t just be your mom’s friends finding your profile, it could be a potential or soon-to-be former employer.