Facebook quietly removes user privacy setting --> NEW YORK - Facebook has quietly deleted a long-standing user privacy setting, removing one of the last obstacles to prevent complete strangers from finding each other on the popular social network.
Until now, Facebook users have been able to limit people who search for them to "Friends" or "Friends of Friends." (The default setting is "Everyone.")
Now, "Everyone" more than a billion Facebook users will be able to search for "Everyone" else.
Facebook Inc. said Thursday that it is removing a setting that controls whether a user's Timeline could be found when people search for them by name. The company, which has been under scrutiny by privacy advocates, says only a very small percentage of the nearly 1.2 billion people on its network were using the setting.
Facebook started phasing it out last year, removing the option for people who weren't already using it. Facebook says users can protect their privacy by limiting the audience for each item they post about themselves. They can also block individual users from seeing their profiles in a search, says CBS.
In fact, the company says, the setting may have given its users a false sense of security, because people could still find any post or photo where their name or tag appeared. "Our concern, quite frankly, is that people think it provides a level of security, but it actually doesn't," Nicky Jackson Colaco, a member of the Facebook Privacy team, told CNET last December.
Facebook explained that the tool was outdated, because users could be found in other ways, either by clicking on their name in a mutual friend's Timeline or News Feed. The social network also said people became confused when they were unable to find a friend via search.
It's the latest development in Facebook's long-running privacy saga. Frequent changes to its privacy settings have confused some users, and controversial statements from CEO Mark Zuckerberg about how people shouldn't be doing the things they want to keep secret in the first place.
Earlier this year, Facebook expanded its internal search capabilities with the roll out of Graph Search. The feature allows users to sift through the social network's vast data trove to find "friends who live in my city," "tourist attractions in Italy visited by my friends," and similar lists. It also allows Facebook to eventually challenge sites that rate and rank local attractions like restaurants and hotels, says CNN.
Facebook noted in the announcement that it provides other privacy settings, including control over the visibility of each individual post.
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