Facebook is removing the “Who can look up my profile by name?” privacy setting. This setting made it so that people could not use Facebook search to look up your profile by name, so now everybody can look you up by name. Here is Facebook’s official blog post on the situation. Here is a Read/Write Web blog post on how to check and set your privacy settings now that things have changed.
To be honest, I think this is a good move on Facebook’s part. Here’s why…
If you had this feature turned on then people could not use search to find you, but people could still find you through clicking your name on one of your comments on a mutual friend’s post or something like that. The only way they could not find you if you had this setting turned on is through using Facebook search. In other words, turning this setting on gave you a false sense of security. Having a false sense of security on the internet is a very Bad Thing™. After this change, anybody you haven’t specifically blocked will be able to find you on search.
I’m usually one of the people complaining about this kind of change. I firmly believe that privacy protects free speech. At the same time, if privacy is just a fragile illusion that can be circumvented at will then it’s bad to act like our privacy is being protected. Getting rid of bad privacy settings removes a false expectation of privacy that a lot of people have.
If you have a stalker this might be a little scary, but it shouldn’t be that bad because you can still stop them from reading your posts and information. Just change the privacy settings for the different kinds of content to ‘friends only’ or ‘friends and friends of friends’, or whatever you are most comfortable with.
I used to have it set so that people could not find me by name because I don’t want my Facebook posts and conversations to go outside my digital tribe. Because of that setting, every time I ran into somebody who wanted to add me as a friend I had to turn that setting off so they could add me and then turn it back on again. Obviously, that’s a hassle, so after doing that a couple times I just decided to leave that setting off. I still have it set so that my posts are only seen by friends or friends of friends, but now anybody can find me by name. They just can’t see what I post unless I add them to my friends list.
The profile is not what’s important. It’s the content of your Facebook posts that is important.