Facebook is set top open up its users profiles to the world, as it has started telling users that in a “couple of weeks” profiles will be able to be discovered through search engines like Google.
“Starting today, we are making limited public search listings available to people who are not logged in to Facebook. We’re expanding search so that people can see which of their friends are on Facebook more easily. The public search listing contains less information than someone could find right after signing up anyway, so we’re not exposing any new information, and you have complete control over your public search listing.
In a few weeks, we will allow these Public Search listings (depending on users’ individual privacy settings) to be found by search engines like Google, MSN Live, Yahoo, etc. We think this will help more people connect and find value from Facebook without exposing any actual profile information or data”
Clearly Facebook is concerned with avoiding another privacy outroar, such as it experienced when it introduced Newsfeeds and RSS feeds. You can choose as to whether you have a public search page or not as well as what you show on it. So it appears to have these bases followed, although I’m sure many, many people are going to complain that you should be made to turn on these features rather than giving you the option of turning them off.
It will be interesting to see what this means for people search engines like Spock. I’ve already had a thousand times more luck rediscovering people via Facebook than via any search engines, and such is the critical mass that Facebook has achieved, I can see Facebook have similiar traction with people profiles as Wikipedia has with its encyclopedia-style listings, or Google has for web page searches. That said, it will make it far easier for people search engines to index and make use of Facebook data, so maybe they’ll see it as a positive.
Whatever the case it appears the Facebook steam train just keeps on rolling on…