Facebook Parts Walled Garden, Triggers Privacy Concerns
Does opening the social networking site to search indexes make Facebook a 'quasi-White Pages of the Web?
Facebook on Sept. 5 made its member listings searchable by outside users and public search engines, and in a seemingly innocuous move to help its 40 million users find each other, threatened its hard-won reputation for strict privacy practices.
The adjustment means a query of a Facebook member's name on search engines such as Google, Yahoo or MSN will return a user's name and thumbnail picture, and thus the end of the walled garden image often touted by the site.
Conscious of the fact that the new approach may raise privacy concerns, Facebook made it clear that users will only appear in searches outside Facebook when search settings are set to 'Everyone' and will allow users approximately one month to set their privacy options before Facebook allows search engines to index public search listings.
But the practice attracted the attention of several high-tech bloggers, including Danny Sullivan, John Battelle and Om Malik, who, in his blog, GigaOm, called the move a switch from social networking to a 'quasi-White Pages".