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About the new Facebook privacy settings

I’m seeing a lot of confusion about the new Facebook privacy settings and I’m hoping this post will help clear things up.

Here’s the short version:

  • Facebook is encouraging you to make more things visible to “everyone”.
  • Facebook wants to continue to allow Google to view the items that you’ve made visible to “everyone”.

This isn’t new — they’ve been allowing Google to index your public information for years. Don’t freak out — they’re not going to automatically index everything unless you’ve been careless with your settings.  Here’s what you need to check:

Go to [settings] –> [privacy settings] –> [Profile Information] –> Look at the items on the right side.  If they say “everyone”, then everyone can see those items.


Make the necessary changes on that page.

Next, go to [settings] –> [privacy settings] –> [Search].  This is where you can choose to “allow indexing” by Google.  People are upset about this, but it’s actually a good thing — this has been automatically turned on for years and you couldn’t do much to stop it.  Now they’ve added a checkbox so you can uncheck it to deindex yourself.

allow-indexingThe semi-shady part is that Facebook is nudging people to make more things available to “everyone”, and therefore have more data appear in Google.  Just make sure you have your privacy settings correct and there’s no problem.

In fact, I highly recommend that you continue to “allow indexing”.  Why?  Well, what comes up when people search for your name in Google?  Wouldn’t you like to control that?

By allowing indexing, but then tightening up your privacy settings, you’ll allow your Facebook profile to rank highly for vanity searches on your name.  You want to control those top search results for your name.  If you’re concerned about your privacy, then make sure you control those top results in Google with a site that you can have precision control about what gets posted, rather than allowing some random site to have the first result for your name.  It’s an excellent solution.

I still think Facebook has been a bit shady with this, trying to get people to open more info to “everyone”, but it’s hardly the firestorm that people are saying.

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Mickey Mellen

Co-Founder and Technical Director

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