Facebook Comments can now be indexed by Google

google_searchHere’s a new development that could potentially affect your privacy: Google can now index AJAX and JavaScript content. Before, Googlebot could not access content that was posted using a third party commenting system, such as what you use on Facebook. But with this new development, everything that you post in a public page or forum can now be easily searched through Google’s search engine.

The whole affair sounds quite invasive and some people might not take too kindly to the idea of having all their comments indexed. After all, this makes things easier for impersonators and scammers especially with phishing attempts.

However, Google is not really violating any privacy laws by doing this.

If your profile or your wall is private, then the Googlebot still won’t be able to index it. Anything that you post in public places like fanpages, however, will be fair game for Google. For example, if you registered on a certain site using your Facebook profile and posted comments there, then these comments can be traced back to you through Google. This content was public in the first place, Google just made it much easier to find.

So, basically, anybody who cares to look for any comments that you made can just input the right parameters (Commenter Name * Commenter Title) and they’ll be able to find your name paired up along with the public comments you made using your Facebook profile.

If you’ve been cautious about what you post and genuinely insightful on the comments you make and if you don’t mind them getting tied to your name, then you might think that this isn’t a problem at all.

However, if you have any friends who happen to have their profiles still set to public, then you could have a potential problem on your hands. Any comments you made, personal conversations, or lewd jokes you posted on their public wall can be crawled by Googlebot.

So, if you happened to post anything incriminating on a public Facebook profile, now might be a good time to start doing a bit of clean up. It’s hard to imagine anyone manually sifting through your friends’ walls to dig up some dirt about you – but now that the whole process has been simplified by Google, well, let’s just say that it’s best to be safe rather than sorry. Better yet, encourage your friends to make their profiles private – it’s the responsible thing to do, not only for their own sake but for that of their friends as well.

Another problem posed by Google’s new feature is the fact that it actually conflicts with Facebook’s privacy settings, particularly the one which makes you unsearchable through search engines. Your profile might not show up when you try searching for your name on Google, but your comments will – almost as if Google is a backdoor to your private Facebook profile. Facebook does have a commendable defense in place for this. You’ll find that even if they click on the link containing your comment, they will still be unable to click on your name so your personal details (age, birth date, address, your actual profile photo and not a mere thumbnail, likes, etc.) will still be inaccessible.

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