The world’s biggest social media site has opened its user’s profiles to greater scrutiny from complete strangers and potential employers – a move one expert says will spark anger.
Last week, Facebook announced it would allow users to trawl through the estimated two trillion public posts on the site using word searches in a similar way to Google.
Never before has the site allowed this. Users are sure to be worried about privacy, an expert told The New Daily.
“If they’ve pushed the public button, which most people have done by default, then it becomes totally searchable,” tech futurist Morris Miselowski said.
“There’s going to be a knee-jerk reaction, that’s for sure. It will be negative. Most people are still very, very concerned about having their materials found by others.
“I’m sure there’ll be immediate debate about security online and all that kind of stuff.”
‘Trapped in Facebook’
“They are definitely looking to build an eco-system,” he said.
“It would make sense that [Facebook is] looking to close that eco-system and to maintain it. The less you need to go outside Facebook, the better it is for them as a corporation.”
He predicted that digital assistants like Siri and Google Now will increasingly become our default method of search, rather than websites like Google.
Because we spend so much time on Facebook, these voice-activated programs might learn to trawl the social network more and more. A search feature gives Siri and Google Now more reason to visit.
“If it [Facebook] is the default place and our ‘tech-knowledgy’ knows that’s our preference, then that’s where it will go,” Mr Miselowski said.
“The more that eco-system can feed us, the less likely that tech-knowledgy will look elsewhere and we’ll become entrapped in that space, which is the desire of every marketer on the planet.”
How to try it out
To access the new feature, go to Settings and select Language. Check that your language is set to: English (US).
Type your desired search term into the search panel and select the magnifying glass option.
For better results, put your search term in quote marks (“funny memes”). This will tell Facebook to search for those exact words.
How to protect yourself
Mr Miselowski recommended that users immediately perform a “vanity search”.
Type your name into Facebook’s new search feature and experiment with key words to see what others might find. Remove anything worrisome by changing the privacy setting of that post from ‘Public’ to ‘Friends’ or ‘Only Me’.
“Going forward, adjust your privacy settings so that you’re comfortable with who is receiving that information. And then go back to rule one: don’t say anything you wouldn’t say in the marketplace,” he said.
‘Not too much to worry about’
Another expert was less concerned about the potential for privacy breaches – or the possibility that the social network would subsume the wider web.
“Facebook would be extremely limited if it did not have this ability,” Bond University tech expert Dr Marcus Randall said.
“I don’t think that Facebook could ever replace the rich and diverse information stores that are available from the web.
“Like any service, it is only trying to retain its user base and be attractive to other potential users.”