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Will Facebook Respect Your Privacy?

Last week, both Google and Microsoft announced that they had made deals with Facebook and Twitter that would allow them to start indexing real-time updates from members of the giant social networking platforms.

What does this really mean? Well, it means that certain status updates and other postings on Facebook and various tweets on Twitter could soon be accessible through regular search engines like Google and Bing.

Up until now, the big social networking sites have been off limits to the major search engines, but that is about to change. However, before you panic and desperately try to erase those private Facebook messages about your boss or mother-in-law, don't worry! It is safe to say that social networking privacy settings will trump the search engines, and that information intended for a restricted audience will stay that way.

The Facebook universe now numbers over 300 million people, while Twitter has about 20 million users and is growing at a rate of 200% per year based on recent data. Included in those millions are many commercial organizations, celebrities and public commentators and it's these groups or individuals that the search engines are most interested in.

Take the case of Starbucks. Through a combination of fun promotions and an effective and well-designed Facebook page, the popular coffee-house chain has amassed over 4.5 million fans. Think how beneficial it would be for non-Facebook consumers (and Starbucks!) if notice of these promotions were also available through regular search.

Similarly, all kinds of celebrities from Barack Obama to Rihanna have active open Facebook accounts with millions of fans. But to get the information that is posted to these pages, you have to go to Facebook. Once the social networks become searchable, these posts will be available through regular search, indexed and ranked according to the Google and Bing complex search engine formulas.

In the case of Twitter, there are thousands of informative and newsworthy Tweets posted every day from an array of experts, social commentators and celebrities. Whether you are looking for breaking news from CNN, the latest musings from Ashton Kutcher, or even useful updates from The Online Mom, you won't need to be constantly logged into Twitter or even have a Twitter account.

So rest assured, if your Facebook page is private, it will stay that way. On the other hand, if you like the idea of reaching a wider audience beyond a tight-knit group of friends, family and followers, then your chance is coming!     


Comment by Milcah, posted 10/27/2009, 2:48 PM:

Thanks for this information!
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