Many people who use social media websites such as Facebook are concerned about the privacy implications of posting on these sites. One major area of concern is whether the information posted on these sites is public or private and whether such information is available in search engine results. Google does have a deal with Facebook and does crawl the website regularly. Understanding the types of information that is crawled and your privacy settings within Facebook will help you protect your privacy and control what information is available about you in the public space.
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If you have a Facebook account, it's important to realise that not all of the information you post to your profile is private. Information such as status updates, photos and your profile may be visible for all to see if you don't manage your privacy settings within your account. Some of this information could also show up in Google search results -- particularly if someone (such as a prospective employer) enters your name as a search query. Depending on the type of content posted to your Facebook account, this could have serious implications for your future career.
Google does not currently crawl Facebook for private profiles, making the information you post to these pages relatively hidden from the public eye. However, if someone were to search for your name in Google, a link to your profile would appear, giving the person instant access to all of the public information in your Facebook account. Facebook does allow users to alter these "public search" settings, which when activated, will prevent even their names and from showing up in Google's search results.
Google does crawl Facebook fan pages and posts "real time" updates in its search results. These updates include all recent posts, comments and "likes" on public fan pages. If you are a fan of a Facebook group and post comments or status updates on its wall, these comments will be available in Google search results. If your personal privacy on the Internet is important to you, you should be careful with the information you post on these public fan pages because even your "likes" will be indexed.
Altering your privacy settings in Facebook can help you manage your privacy on the Internet. By disabling "Public Search" in your Facebook profile, for example, you will prevent Google from crawling your page and posting a link to your private profile in its search results. These settings don't apply to anything posted or "liked" on a public fan page, however. Because there aren't privacy settings available for these public pages, it is up to each individual person to filter their comments and status updates. A good rule of thumb is to never post anything to these pages that you wouldn't show to your employer.
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