False “Google Indexing All Your Facebook Information” Rumor

It wouldn’t be a normal week on Facebook if we didn’t find at least one rumor being spread around everyone’s walls with urgings of “COPY AND PASTE TO ALL YOUR FRIENDS ASAP”. This week we surely were not disappointed!

Here is a variation of the latest rumor we are all urged to spread:

“If you don’t know, as of today, Facebook will automatically index ALL YOUR INFO on Google, which allows ANYONE AND EVERYONE to view it. To change this option, go to Settings –> Privacy Settings –> Privacy –> Search –> then UN-CLICK the box that says ‘Allow indexing’. Facebook kept this one quiet. Copy and pass it …on for all your friends ASAP”.

Part of this rumor is true, but parts are definitely false. Here is the real scoop:

Last week Facebook changed their Privacy Policy layout. There was a message from Mark Zuckerberg at the top of everyones page for days advising us it was coming, so it should not have been a surprise to anyone.

Every single user was given two chances to review the policy and their own personal settings. If you declined to look things over the first time you logged in, you were not able to access your account the second time, until you had completed the necessary steps. That being said, everyone had fair and ample warning about what was going to happen.

The rumor above states that suddenly, supposedly as of “today”, Facebook is allowing “ALL OF YOUR” info to be indexed in search engines such as Google. This is NOT true.

Here is a screenshot I took last week, just in case it was needed (and sure enough it was!) of the policy form we all were supposed to read:

As you can see, point #2 states that “Information you choose to share with Everyone is available to everyone on the internet.” This should not shock anyone. If you choose to make your information public, that means the public has access to it. Google is the public.

It also should be pointed out that the statement clearly states that it is information you have chosen the setting “Everyone” that is being indexed – not ALL YOUR INFO as the rumor claims. If you have your privacy settings set to “Friends Only” or “Friends of Friends”, or “Only Me”, then your info is safe. IT WILL NOT be indexed by Google.

If anything, Facebook has actually gone above and beyond to secure your info with the new settings. Even if we choose to make any or all of our info available to “Everyone”, we can STILL choose to have Facebook secure it for us, and keep it out of the search engines, by using the steps shown in the rumor above!

The steps shown in the rumor above are valid, and a good idea, if you want to ensure everything is kept inside Facebook. Ticking or un-ticking that box won’t harm anything, but un-ticking it will give you an added layer of privacy protection.

If you are still unsure about what steps you should take to protect your account the way you wish it to be protected, visit page. It should also be noted that if you are under the age of 18, you will not be able to change any of your settings to “Everyone”.

However, to claim that “Facebook kept this one quiet” is, in my humble opinion, pure bull pucky. We were all given plenty of warning – we were unable to access accounts until we reviewed the info – and, if you have chosen any setting that states “Everyone”, expecting that anything less than everyone seeing it, is a little more than unreasonable.

UPDATE Dec 15: We’ve received some comments via email and on the Fan page that people are finding themselves in the search engines, and are assuming that this is part of the new changes. Chances are this is not the result of the changes.

Facebook has been providing your name in search results since 2007. This is how friends find each other, and one of the purposes of Facebook to begin with. If you do find your name in Google or any other search engine, it most likely links to your profile page. The only visible information shown will be your name, your profile photo, and a link to “Add As A Friend”; unless you have chosen to share your info with “Everyone”.

If you do not want even your profile page to appear in the search engines, un-tick the box as described above. Once someone then clicks your name in the engine, it should bring up something along the lines of “file not found”.

Google is constantly updating its search results, so your name will eventually drop off once it crawls Facebook and sees that your link is no longer there.



10 Responses to “False “Google Indexing All Your Facebook Information” Rumor”
  1. Uhh, as I’ve noted to friends who have posted on FB themselves about this rumor, true, it’s a rumor, but one that FB ultimately brought on itself with actual privacy policy changes designed to **lessen** your privacy if you follow FB’s default suggestions. AND, those changes were deliberate and part of a campaign that was first touted and trumpeted months ago.
    Rather than just send out a e-PR saying the rumor isn’t true, we need FB to feel the pressure to the point it admits that, yes, it did try to expose more of our privacy in order to try to sell more ads.

    • Joanne Dolles says:

      I definitely agree that the default settings Facebook put into place were most likely for deeper motives… Like you said – to sell ads. But the point of this article was to point out the rumor being spread about ALL your info being indexed, which we know is not true.

      I don’t know that they even have sent out any ePR, except for an alert posted at the top of the Privacy Settings page, indicating that the rumor is incorrect. If you have seen anything else distributed by them, I would love to see it. Thanks!

  2. Ellen Brown says:

    This isn’t anything new. For as long as I’ve been on Facebook, there was a checkbox to include/not include your information in searches. I had mine set to ‘not include’ and it stayed that way through the change….my box was still ‘unclicked’. So all of these people who are so upset probably had their profile searchable all along.

  3. EM says:

    the options that were brought up when you went through Facebooks new privacy settings (if you clicked through their message instead of checking the settings directly) doesn’t actually show you that option.

    Its only if you go through every screen of the privacy list that you will see it.

    So it is worth letting people know even if the message is not quite correct in when it was announced etc.

  4. Susan Morris says:

    People who wish to use their FB profile to promote themselves for professional reasons, and those who are job searching, should know that if one’s profile is searchable on FB, then all one’s fan pages can be seen by non-friends. This means that if an individual chooses to join fan pages of politicians, religious leaders and artists, a potential customer or employer can glean much personal information about an individual from reviewing the list of fan pages. I know people who have left some of their fave fan pages for this reason. Sometimes we wish to keep certain details about our tastes and preferences private.

    I think it’s unfortunate that individuals do not have a choice in which fan pages can be viewed on their profile page if it is searchable by non-friends on FB.

    Also, since FB locked everyone out of their pages until they read and updated their privacy options, and people STILL missed the detail about what it means if “everyone” can view certain things, then clearly FB missed the mark on their information campaign. People didn’t post that update to be hostile, they were genuinely concerned. Instead of going on the defensive and displaying a lack of empathy for these end users, a little bit of “mea culpa” would go a long way.

    • Joanne Dolles says:

      Susan, I definitely agree we should be able to make our Pages private. I see no reason why that information needs to be automatically shown, except for the fact Facebook is looking to pull more brand name companies in for advertising revenue. If they are going to give us privacy options on indexing, they should be allowing us the option to show or not show fan pages as well.

      As for a little “mea culpa”, I am not apart of Facebook so have zero reason to be defensive, as I did not make the changes. However, I am entitled to my own opinion. This article was written with facts, but some comments are my perspective and opinion. I don’t doubt that people were posting the rumor due to genuine concern, but what I can’t understand the blind “pass it on” that happens almost daily on Facebook, without anyone taking just a few minutes to see if the information is true or not…

      • Susan Morris says:

        I appreciate your response. You are right, if a mea culpa is coming it needs to be from FB. Here’s the thing about passing it along without researching – there wasn’t much info available. And people were reacting to the relevant part – the part that was true, not the “FB is keeping this one quiet part,” although clearly since people didn’t know about it, the end result was that it was kept quiet, albeit unintentionally. I’m sure that for people who saw the update that was going around, then went to their privacy settings and learned that some of their information was available to the public without their prior knowledge, it would seem reasonable to pass along the warning to others. In the end, the warning was useful because helped many people and got their attention.

        Coincidentally, there was a program on NPR recently, where the the author of the book, “Googled, The End of the World As We Know It,” Ken Auletta was interviewed. In the interview he mentioned FB and stated it’s possible for employers or potential employers to find anything a person has ever posted on FB. I don’t know how many FB users listened to that program, but it may have added to the hype.

  5. Cathy Gould says:

    Unfortunately, you’ve got the wrong end of the stick here. Sort of. It looked like one to me too, but as i tracked it, I couldn’t find it in any of the usual rumour-busting places. So, I kept tracking.
    What set off this round of ‘rumours’ is the release of Google Real-Time Search. The first link is from a CNN report, which is about the only thing i found earlier with any specifics. The second link is the Google Blog where the roll-out was, actually kinda’ surreptitiously proclaimed. Who starts their day with the Google blog? Maybe we’d better.

    “…Facebook updates posted to public Facebook Pages will be indexed, while any Myspace update designated as public will appear in search results…”


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