Facebook changes worry students

By Rebecca Sweeney

Time is running short for students to reset their privacy options before Facebook profile searches expand to Google, Yahoo and MSN Live.

Facebook, a social networking site founded in 2004, will make search listings publicly available in a few weeks to “give people who are not currently registered on Facebook the opportunity to discover their friends on the site,” according to the Web site.

“We think this will help more people connect and find value from Facebook without exposing any actual profile information or data,” said Philip Fung, a Facebook engineer.

Of the site’s 39 million active users who have returned to the site in the last 30 days, 32,000 belong to the UK network.

Some Facebook users, however, worry that search engines will give strangers, not just their friends, access to their public listing.

“I joined Facebook to meet classmates, not rapists that lurk on Google,” said James Sanders, an engineering freshman.

A public search listing provides the name and profile picture of a Facebook user, said Facebook spokesman Dave Donohue.

Listings for users who have set privacy limits for searching will not appear in search results from Facebook’s home page or in search-engine results.

“At Facebook, we believe that people should have control over how they share their information and who can see it,” Donohue said, adding that Facebook has allowed users about a month to change their settings before search engines can index the listings.

Katie Wyckoff, a chemical engineering junior, has already changed her privacy settings so that her public search listing does not appear in search engine results.

“It’s not like I’m going to stop using Facebook,” she said. “I just hate that I have to change things to make it safer.”

Students also need to be aware of the information that future employers, parents and police may find from Facebook by using the new public search listings, said Christine Amerman, assistant director of the James W. Stuckert Career Center.

“I’ve talked to employers that have decided not to pursue a candidate because of what’s on their Facebook profile,” Amerman said.

While Amerman says deleting a Facebook account is the only way to ensure that possible losses are reduced, she realizes that won’t stop many students from using the service.

“The best advice I can give students is to keep the information on your page professional,” Amerman said.