It might be hard to believe now, in the age where every social connection and Facebook comment can be surfaced instantly, but it's true: Once upon a time, Facebook members could be invisible when people searched for their name. Users could have normal profiles, and friends could tag them in photos, but when others looked up them up by name, their profiles wouldn't show.
That feature will be axed in the next few weeks, Facebook alerted its members Thursday:
The social network had previously announced that it would be phasing out the tool, and, in December of last year, removed the search setting for members who weren't using it.
The "small percentage" of users who've held on to the privacy option will see it disappear soon, Facebook wrote in a blog post. (Its title all but begged to fly under the radar: "Reminder: Finishing the Removal of an Old Search Setting.")
A brief scan through Facebook's Help Center suggests there are some users who still see a use for this "old search setting."
In his blog post, Facebook's chief privacy officer, Michael Richter, presented the change as one that would make Facebook's search tool less confusing for users, noting that some had thought the feature was "broken" because friends' names wouldn't appear. Richter also cited Facebook's previous privacy changes as justification for the latest privacy change.
"The setting was created when Facebook was a simple directory of profiles and it was very limited," he wrote. "For example, it didn’t prevent people from navigating to your Timeline by clicking your name in a story in News Feed, or from a mutual friend’s Timeline. Today, people can also search Facebook using Graph Search (for example, 'People who live in Seattle,') making it even more important to control the privacy of the things you share rather than how people get to your Timeline."
Richter offered instructions on how to control the visibility of content shared to Facebook.
A Facebook spokeswoman did not immediately return a request for comment on the exact percentage of users the change will affect.