Opting out of search is now impossible—unless you’re a minor
At one point in time, it was possible to keep your Facebookprofile nearly invisible. Using a now defunct setting called “Who can look up your Timeline by name?” users were able to remove their name from search results. The feature’s been gone for people who weren’t using it, but it’ll be permanently removed for everyone in the next few weeks.
Zynga and Facebook go together like peanut butter and jelly or beans and franks: it's hard to imagine one without the other. Who doesn't like to enjoy a quick game of Mafia Wars or Farmville when they're done checking in on their friends? But Zynga wants to point out that its an apple to Facebook's orange in one crucial way: privacy. Zynga suffers when users shun Facebook due to privacy concerns, so the company just released a new game called PrivacyVille to walk users through their privacy policies in an interactive way.
As Google puts it, their privacy policies are, "long, complicated and lawyerly." We'd say that's probably accurate. Have you ever tried to read one of those things? Google is looking to change that by updating their privacy policies with less jargon, less volume, and more clear language. The Google blog post does go to great pains to point out that this is not an excuse to sneak less favorable policies into the mix, this is just about making things more readable.
Using the guise of shielding more of your personal information, and giving you more control over the information you enter into Facebook, it turns out that Facebook is actually making it harder, if not impossible, to shield your personal information, and is making more of that information available to others--whether you like it or not.
The bad, the EFF says, are the abysmal privacy settings recommended by Facebook. While prior default settings limited access to your networks and friends, the new default settings make your information available to everyone, everywhere. Lesson here, says the EFF, don’t accept Facebook’s privacy recommendations.
Still, it doesn’t much matter. EFF gets down to the ugly: a lot of personal information you could once shield is now open to the public, regardless of what you want. And not just your information, but the information of all your friends as well. Facebook says this information was never really private, or that it could be obtained by other means, or that users didn’t really care. EFF doesn’t quite buy Facebook’s explanations. And it worries, given the nature of data mining, the information about you available to anyone and everyone (including third-party app developers--whether you use the app or not), poses risks that you won't realize until it's too late.
For Facebook users it should be caveat utilitor. Facebook’s need to trade on your personal information appears to have trumped your concerns for privacy, so take care.