Facebook faces more privacy controversy after it announced it is turning off a feature that allowed users to hide themselves from searches on the site.
Facebook’s chief privacy officer, Michael Richter wrote in a blog post that the decision was being made for the benefit of Facebook users by offering a more consistent search experience.
“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,” he wrote.
“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.”
He added that the system now made Facebook's search feature "feel broken at times".
"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.
Becasue of this, the feature will now be turned off. Those that still have the setting turned on will now see a notification displayed above their profile warning them that the feature is to be turned off (displayed below).
In an effort to head off criticism of the firm's decision, Richter urged those concerned about privacy to use the site's settings to ensure they have the level of control of their information they require.
"Whether you’ve been using the setting or not, the best way to control what people can find about you on Facebook is to choose who can see the individual things you share," he wrote.
The change of policy on searching is the latest alteration to Facebook's policies in recent months. In late August the firm set out a detailed update on how it uses facial recognition technologies to increase the accuracy of photo-tagging.
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