Facebook Unfriends Another Privacy Setting

Facebook will eliminate the setting that keeps you unsearchable. Here's how to make sure the wrong people can't see your private posts.
10 Facebook Features To Help You Get Ahead
10 Facebook Features To Help You Get Ahead
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Get ready, Facebook users: More changes are coming to your privacy settings. The social network announced Thursday that it is removing a privacy setting that lets you decide whether or not you want your profile to appear when people search for you by name.

The setting, called "Who can look up your Timeline by name," was already removed last year for people who weren't using it. Facebook said there is a "small percentage" of people still using the setting; they will see reminders about its removal in the coming weeks.

As a result, all Facebook users will be searchable when someone types their name into the search bar. Michael Richter, chief privacy officer at Facebook, said that the privacy setting became antiquated as Facebook search evolved.

[ Facebook indexes more than you think. Read Facebook Graph Search: 5 Privacy Settings To Check. ]

"For example, it didn't prevent people from navigating to your timeline by clicking your name in a story in News Feed, or from a friend's timeline," Richter said. "Today, people can also search Facebook using Graph Search (for example, "People who live in Seattle,") making it even more important to control the privacy of the things you share rather than how people get to your timeline."

If you still use the "Who can look up your Timeline by name" feature, Facebook will show you a notice on your homepage to remind you that the setting will soon be removed. You can click to learn more or close it to be reminded again later.

How to Adjust Your Privacy Settings

Since all users will be searchable on Facebook, it's important to revisit your privacy settings so you know what parts of your profile are visible to certain people. Facebook said that if you share posts publicly in the coming weeks, you will see a notice reminding you that those posts can be seen by anyone, including people you may not know. The notice reminds you how to change the audience for each post.

To adjust your privacy settings now, start by using the "View As" feature to see what information is visible to the public, your friends and your various friend lists. You can find this feature by navigating to your profile and clicking the gear icon at the bottom of your cover photo, then choosing "View As ..." At the top of your profile, type in the names of friends or friend lists to view your profile as they see it.

If you find information you want to remove, visit your Activity Log. Use the timeline slider on the right and the menu on the left to find the post you want to edit, then click the pencil icon or the privacy setting drop-down list to make changes.

Another option is using a blanket privacy setting that will control the privacy of all past posts. If you use this setting, all posts that were previously shared with friends of friends or public will be changed to friends only.

To find this setting, navigate to your privacy page. Under the first option -- Who can see my stuff? -- is the option "Limit the audience for posts you've shared with friends of friends or public?" Click "Limit Past Posts" to enable this option.

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Samuel Greengard, Contributing Reporter
Cynthia Harvey, Freelance Journalist, InformationWeek
Carrie Pallardy, Contributing Reporter
John Edwards, Technology Journalist & Author
Astrid Gobardhan, Data Privacy Officer, VFS Global
Sara Peters, Editor-in-Chief, InformationWeek / Network Computing