Facebook Profiles Go Public

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.

facebook public profile

Facebook’s Zuckerberg Apologizes; Is Not lonelygirl15

mark zuckerberg, facebokThe 22-year-old proprietor of the infectiously popular Facebook, the two-year-old social networking Web site for the college set, apologized this morning, for what I — and others — felt was merely exposing the obvious.

Zuckerberg and his staffers will take part in a chat Saturday at 4 p.m. ET in a Facebook group he started last week addressing net neutrality and the upcoming election: “Free Flow of Information on the Internet.”

Nobody but the 9 million + Facebook members appear to matter, however, as the majority of the social network watching blogosphere has become wholly obsessed (as before it was only moderately obsessed) with the mystery of lonelygirl15, now playing in a USAToday (popcandy blog) and L.A. Times near you.

Thanks Staci @ PaidContent for the heads up.

The Facebook Lesson

22-year-old Harvard dropout Mark Zuckerberg delivered the lesson of the year to college (and some high school) campuses nationwide on Tuesday when he unveiled a revamped version of his superpopular, 2-year-old social networking Web site Facebook.com. The addition of a time-stamped “mini-feed” on each member’s page detailing their Facebook mentions and activities has sparked an uproar (that’s the WSJ’s word) as Generation C is slapped with a reality check: there are no secrets on the Internet.

The Washingon Post bumped the issue to page A01, declaring:

Such a strong reaction in defense of privacy is rare among the teenage and twenty-something generation, which grew up in the era of public disclosure in the form of blogs, videosharing and reality television.

But no longer can Paris Hilton sneak away from a DUI arrest without TMZ on her tail and never again will a Swift Boat hoax turn the tide on an election. Everything is out on the table, and practically everyone is watching. Future presidents are already leaving their paper trail on sites like Facebook. I must congratulate Zuckerberg for providing the 9 million mostly college students who use Facebook the opportunity to look in the mirror and see firsthand just what happens when post content, photos and personal information is posted haphazardly on the Internet. Who knows his true intentions — there is clearly no privacy violated in making it easier for users to read and create the content they signed up for. Tech marketing guru Ed Kohler agrees. So does VC Fred Wilson.

In March, Zuckerberg turned down a $750 million buyout offer and told BusinessWeek he thought Facebook was worth at least $2 billion. 85% of all college students use Facebook, according to TechCrunch, which has prompted university officials to state: “we’ve got alot of catching up to do” as far as keeping tabs on their students. It just got a bit easier — and to be honest, anyone on Facebook could have already been kept track of using RSS.

I spoke to several undergrads today in an Investigative Reporting class and most were shaken by the turn of events. Very few if any in the 14-person class had used MySpace, flickr, or even del.icio.us. But they all use Facebook. The student editors of the Daily Trojan penned a column this week echoing the Facebook wake-up-call: “[B]eyond this lies a simple issue of privacy: How much of your most personal information do you want accessible to anyone who goes, or went, to USC?”

More than anything else, the Facebook lesson helps define how important issues of privacy and of checks and balances on information sharing are as we move forward in the digital age.

UPDATE: Dave Winer chimes in: “Facebook did good. But Facebook also did bad..
A Day Without Facebook protest blog
Facebook User Groups: Students for Changing the Post Mini-Feed World, The Coalition to Stop Facebook, Stalker Edition
USAToday blog asks: “Has Facebook turned into Big Brother?”
IvyLeak: “WSJ Sends Embedded Journalists to Cover Impending Facebook Coup”