Social media giant Facebook and Internet search king Google both announced modifying their privacy terms which will have far-reaching implications for their users.
Facebook said it will remove a special feature allowing its users to hide their profiles from the other users. Google announced Friday it will be following Facebook in allowing user pictures and endorsements for product advertising's use.
Such 'invisibility' modification feature of Facebook means users can no longer hide themselves from the billion-plus members of the social network. With the removal of this feature, someone may search another user on the social network without limitation.
Facebook earlier provided the feature which allowed users to maintain invisibility and disable users to find them via the internal search option. The company had made an earlier notice that it was doing away with the feature. While the feature was disabled for new users, a "small percentage" of existing users who have activated the option will be given time for the transition.
"The setting was created when Facebook was a simple directory of profiles and it was very limited," Facebook Chief Privacy Officer Michael Richter said.
He cited, "For example, people told us that they found it confusing when they tried looking for someone who they knew personally and couldn't find them in search results, or when two people were in a Facebook Group and then couldn't find each other through search."
Saying that the setting made Facebook search "feel broken at times," Richter added. He noted the change would not impact the overall privacy of users.
"Whether you've been using the setting or not, the best way to control what people can find about you on Facebook is to choose who can see the individual things you share," he stressed.
In recent months, Facebook has been under scrutiny due to privacy concerns. It has recently revamped its search functions to include "graph search," which allows the users to search through a range of posts on the social network.
Google on Friday said it would follow Facebook in its product advertisements by allowing the use of pictures and endorsements. The search king added the change will take effect Nov. 11. The company's terms of service has been updated accordingly.
"We want to give you - and your friends and connections - the most useful information," the terms of service document said.
"Recommendations from people you know can really help. So your friends, family and others may see your profile name and photo, and content like the reviews you share or the ads you (liked)."
The company said it will not use endorsements from users under age 18 but users will have an option to opt out of the feature.
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