Social Enterprise

Facebook chooses greed over privacy?

Almost a month ago, I joined the Facebook crowd by signing up for a free membership, posting my picture, and adding a few friends through the CNET network. I actually was encouraged by a coworker, so we could share music and other cool Facebook apps. You can imagine my surprise when I learned that Facebook will soon make members' names and photos available through Google, Yahoo, and Microsoft search engines. See the news story from USA Today: "Soon millions of Facebookers won't be incognito."

Here's the lowdown:

Last week, Facebook made limited member profiles available to non-Facebook members with a new search box at the bottom of the Facebook homepage.

Unless members adjust their own privacy settings, their listings will start showing up in Internet searches in early October.

Some Facebook users say they are perturbed because they joined the service so they could choose whom they communicate with — and not be exposed to the Internet at large.

So, why did Facebook make this change? According to the article, it sounds like greed is a big factor.

Making user listings available on huge search engines such as Google and Yahoo should drive millions more people to the Facebook site, making it an even more lucrative advertising vehicle.

Facebook already has 40 million active members, but I wonder how many of these people it will ultimately lose in its pursuit of more.

Do you have a Facebook membership? If so, are you bothered by this news? If not, will this news prevent you from joining Facebook in the future?


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Sonja Thompson started at TechRepublic in October 1999. She is a former Senior Editor at TechRepublic.

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