How Facebook Is Reminding Users About Its Removal Of A Privacy Setting

RemovingWhoCanLookUpAlertFacebook reminded users last month that it would remove a privacy setting used by a small percentage of its users, “Who can look up your Timeline by name?,” which it originally announced in August, and now, the social network is reminding users again, via messages atop their News Feeds, and via emails.

Justin Lafferty of sister blog Inside Facebook shared the screen shot above of the reminder that appeared at the top of his News Feed, as well as the contents of the email he received:

In a few days, we’ll be removing an old Facebook setting you’ve used in the past. You’ll see an announcement on Facebook and have several chances to learn about this before then. We just wanted to tell you about this in advance so you have time to review what’s changing and understand your privacy options.

What’s changing: We’re removing an old search setting called “Who can look up your Timeline by name” — but this won’t change who can see what you’ve shared on Facebook.

What did this setting do? “Who can look up your Timeline by name” controlled who could find your Timeline by typing your name in search.

What will happen when the setting is removed? Anyone will be able to look up your Timeline by your name — but if they go to your Timeline, they’ll only see what they already have permission to see. Removing this setting doesn’t change who can see your photos, status updates, or other things you’ve shared.

Why is Facebook removing this setting? When we created this setting, the only way to find you on Facebook was to search for your specific name. Now, people can come across your Timeline in other ways — for example, if a friend tags you in a photo, which links to your Timeline, or if people search for phrases like “People who like The Beatles,” or “People who live in Seattle,” in Graph Search.

Today, the best way to manage who sees your stuff is to use your privacy shortcuts (just click the lock icon at the top of every page of the Facebook website), and to choose who to share with when you post new photos and updates.

What’s next? You’ll have more chances to review this info before the setting is removed — and we’ll remind you on Facebook.

Want to review your privacy choices now? Here are some things you can do:

  • If you want to quickly limit the audience of things you’ve shared in the past to friends, visit your privacy settings.
  • Each time you share a photo, link, or status update, you can set the privacy for that specific post.
  • Check out what you’ve shared in the past — and who can see that info — by going to your Activity Log. To get to your Activity Log, click the lock icon at the top of any page to open your privacy shortcuts.

Thanks for taking the time to read this message and for being part of Facebook.

The Facebook Team

Last month, Chief Privacy Officer Michael Richter explained in a Newsroom post why the setting is disappearing:

Everyone used to have a setting called, “Who can look up your Timeline by name?,” which controlled whether you could be found when people typed your name into the Facebook search bar.

The setting was created when Facebook was a simple directory of profiles and it was very limited. For example, it didn’t prevent people from navigating to your Timeline by clicking your name in a story in News Feed, or from a mutual friend’s Timeline. Today, people can also search Facebook using Graph Search (for example, “People who live in Seattle,”) making it even more important to control the privacy of the things you share, rather than how people get to your Timeline.

The setting also made Facebook’s search feature feel broken at times. For example, people told us that they found it confusing when they tried looking for someone who they knew personally and couldn’t find them in search results, or when two people were in a Facebook group and then couldn’t find each other through search.

If you still have the old setting, you will see a notice on your homepage like the one below. You can click to learn more, or close it to get a reminder later.

Readers: Did you ever use the “Who can look up your Timeline by name?” privacy setting?

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