Facebook has sparked controversy by dropping the privacy setting that lets users opt out of people searching for their names, claiming that the feature was used only by “a small percentage” of users.
The social network announced the move in a blog post on Thursday by chief privacy officer Michael Richter, explaining that the privacy setting that controlled “Who can look up your Timeline by name” had been removed.
This effectively means that the profile of anyone with an account on the site can now be viewed publicly by others who type the user’s name in the Facebook search bar.
This setting was already removed last year for people that had already opted into the search function, and Facebook said the change would only affect those who had turned on this feature in their privacy settings–a number, which Richter said, was “a small percentage” among its 1.15 billion monthly active users.
Affected users would receive reminders in the following weeks about the removal, he said, noting that users should control every individual post they shared on Facebook to manage what others were able to view about them on the site.
Richter said the move was part of the company’s efforts to improve its Graph Search and overall search feature, which felt “broken” by the “Who can look up your Timeline by name” setting.
“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,” he said.
Facebook, which is based in Menlo Park, California, says users can protect their privacy by limiting the audience for each thing they post about themselves.
The social network now allows users to classify connections as “close friends,” “subscribers,” or “acquaintances.”
The shift follows other Facebook moves that make it easier for people to find one another.
In its recently announced Graph Search tool, users can search for people without knowing their names, for example, “People who live in Seattle.”
Read the official blog here