Facebook to allow non-users to search for people

Posted by Mark Raby

Palo Alto (CA) - Facebook is raising privacy concerns again as it plans to begin letting anonymous browsers search for people in a community originally safeguarded by a users-only search policy.

"We're expanding search so that people can see which of their friends are on Facebook more easily," writes Facebook engineer Philip Fung in the site's official blog.

He tries to ward off privacy concerns by noting, "We're not exposing any new information, and you have complete control over your public search listing."  However, everyone will now have a public search listing.

Another concern is that these public searches will make their way to external engines like Google and Yahoo.

For around a month or so, however, users will be able to sort of opt out of this move, by requesting that their public search listing be inaccessible by third-party search engines.

Public search listings will include basic detail about the user, as well as a thumbnail sized image of his or her submitted profile picture.  Users can control exactly what appears on these listings.

Facebook also received some criticism when it opened up registration to everyone with a free e-mail address.  Previously only users with an official school e-mail account were able to register.  The Facebook team is trying to make the site more accessible so it can better compete with Myspace.