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As Graph Search launch nears, Facebook quietly tweaks privacy policy so users can’t opt out of search results

Facebook Graph Search Opt Out

Facebook (FB) has a lot riding on Graph Search, which was unveiled earlier this week. The company’s intra-site search engine isn’t just about finding new ways to connect users with the information they want, it’s about a next-generation advertising product that allows Facebook to woo clients with a better class of targeted ads. The wider Graph Search’s reach, the better, and Facebook has begun making moves to ensure its new search product covers as many users as possible — moves that will likely spark a new round of Facebook rage.

As picked up by Quartz, Facebook recently made changes to its privacy policy to remove users’ ability to opt out of search results.

Long before unveiling Graph Search on Wednesday, Facebook updated its privacy policy on December 11th to the following:

When you hide things on your timeline, like posts or connections, it means those things will not appear on your timeline. But, remember, anyone in the audience of those posts or who can see a connection may still see it elsewhere, like on someone else’s timeline or in search results. You can also delete or change the audience of content you post.

Facebook cited a stat that only a single-digit percentage of its users (which amounts to tens of millions of people) had previously opted out of having their content appear in search results, so the change wouldn’t be noticed by most. Of course at the time, no one knew the future of Facebook’s advertising business might ride on their data appearing in search results.

Graph Search has begun rolling out as a limited beta to users who signed up, and a full launch will take place later this year.

Zach Epstein

Zach Epstein has worked in and around ICT for more than 15 years, first in marketing and business development with two private telcos, then as a writer and editor covering business news, consumer electronics and telecommunications. Zach’s work has been quoted by countless top news publications in the US and around the world. He was also recently named one of the world's top-10 “power mobile influencers” by Forbes, as well as one of Inc. Magazine's top-30 Internet of Things experts.

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