Once upon a time, Facebook was a roped-off safe space for moronic 18-year-old college students. The idea of someone’s mom, employer or professor having an account was laughable.
Then, high-schoolers could join. Then, early users started graduating from college, meaning potential employers could very well stumble upon that photo of you clutching a red Solo cup, bleary-eyed, in your “slutty leprechaun” Halloween costume.Finally, Facebook cut loose and allowed everyone to join. The parents and bosses came trickling in. But we could still easily pick and choose who saw our photos and status updates. And most importantly, we were able to keep the creeps and high-school foes at bay just by checking a box that exempted us from search results.
Now, that’s changing–everyone is going to be able to search your profile! Just everyone. The creepy guy who stared at you during Shakespeare 101; the over-sharers who you can so discreetly un-follow on Twitter; everyone. This might just be what causes us to finally click “deactivate.”
Here’s what Facebook has to say about the change:
“The ['Who can look up your Timeline by name?'] 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 …
“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 by “broken” you mean “appropriate for a website on which years’ worth of your personal information is stored,” yes, definitely. We loved that certain people couldn’t find us. That was the point, we thought.
But now, the only way to control who sees what you post is to toggle the privacy options of each individual post. You’ll have to use Activity Log to delete or change the privacy settings of things you’ve posted in the past, which, for those of us who’ve had Facebook since the early ’00s, is a joke.
Still, we shouldn’t be surprised. We should all expect Facebook to do whatever the hell it wants with our information. The social network is providing us with a free service that’s become a huge part of our social lives. Without Facebook, how would we find out about parties and events, remember birthdays, and keep a totally-necessary-and-not-at-all-creepy eye on our exes?
Of course, people did all these things before Facebook existed. It just took time and effort. So, you have a choice. You can keep your account intact and watch your privacy crumble away into the Internet’s dustbin while your online identity becomes a commodity from which a corporation profits. Or, you could delete it and commit to occasionally calling, texting and emailing your acquaintances. But who’s got the time?