SAN FRANCISCO – Facebook is ending a feature that allowed users to hide from the social network’s billion-plus members.
The feature, akin to Harry Potter’s invisibility cloak, will be removed, meaning that someone looking for another Facebook user can more easily find that person.
“The setting was created when Facebook was a simple directory of profiles, and it was very limited,” said Facebook’s chief privacy officer, Michael Richter.
The setting made Facebook search “feel broken at times,” Richter added in a company blog Thursday. “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.”
Facebook announced last year that it was ending this feature for new users, but allowed a transition for a “small percentage” of users who had that feature enabled.
Richter said the change should not have an impact on overall privacy. “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 said.
Facebook, which has been under scrutiny by privacy advocates, recently revamped its search functions to include a graph search that allows users to search through a wide range of posts on the world’s biggest social network.
Seeking to boost sales, Facebook also is redesigning its advertising service. Instead of spending time choosing types of promotions, businesses can select one of eight objectives. The new system then recommends the best kind of ads to deploy and tracks the results of the campaign.