Facebook users are being told to double-check their privacy settings after the social media network issued an update that allows third parties to access trillions of older posts from any public profile.
Previously, Facebook’s searches were largely limited to groups, events and locations, with individuals’ public posts difficult to find without directly navigating to the user’s profile page.
Now, the site has indexed more than two trillion posts, enabling users to search for a specific post from any public profile, whether or not the parties are friends on the site, The Guardian reports.
Vice president Tom Stocky, said when users search, they will “see the most recent, relevant public posts along with posts from your friends”.
He said search results are organised to help cut through the noise and quickly understand what the world is saying about a topic in the moment.
“You also can pull-to-refresh and see the latest public posts,” he said.
But the new feature has led to concern that posts which many would rather stay hidden will be revealed to the world.
“Your search results are personalised and unique to you and, as always, you can only see things that have been shared with you. Likewise, you control who can see your posts on Facebook and it’s easy to change the audience of your past posts any time,” he said.
With some users having more than a decade of past posts indexed on the site, however, it is possible that users may not remember which posts were made with which privacy settings, which could lead to some uncomfortable posts resurfacing.
The change is part of a push on the part of Facebook to compete with main rival Twitter on live events, where the latter’s broad search and chronological focus has given it the edge.
Recent additions such as Facebook’s “trending” bar allow users to search the site for current events.
But until this most recent change, it was difficult to find and take part in the public conversation around what was going on in the wider world.
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