Examples: [Collected via Facebook, October 2013]
Origins: Back in December 2012 Facebook announced it would be retiring an option that allowed users to control whether they show up when others type their names into the Facebook search bar. The social network began eliminating that option (which shows up in privacy settings as "Who can look up your timeline by name?") from the accounts of people who weren't using it, and in October 2013 Facebook announced it would be completing the removal of that setting for the "small percentage of people still using it":
The setting was created when Facebook was a simple directory of profiles and it was very limited. For example, it didn't prevent people from navigating to your Timeline by clicking your name in a story in News Feed, or from a mutual friend's Timeline. Today, people can also search Facebook using Graph Search (for example, "People who live in Seattle,") making it even more important to control the privacy of the things you share rather than how people get to your Timeline.
The setting also made Facebook's search feature feel broken at times. For example, people told us that they found it confusing when they tried looking for someone who they knew personally and couldn't find in search results, or when two people were in a Facebook Group and then couldn't find each other through search.
The search setting was removed last year for people who weren't using it. For the small percentage of people still using the setting, they will see reminders about it being removed in the coming weeks.
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.
Another key option in the privacy settings menu is one that lets users disable search engines from linking to their timelines. That will at least cut down on the chance that someone looking for you outside the social network will be able to find your profile.
If your whereabouts or similar information are sensitive, particularly if it's a safety issue, you should be very aware of locations on your posts — no check-ins — and be careful about writing posts that give clues about where you are.
Users should also remember that they can also always block specific users from seeing their Facebook page or from contacting them, but this is more of a reactive step than a proactive one. Plus, just as you could alter your name (yes, in violation of Facebook's guidelines) to hide your identity, so could anyone who is looking for you.
If you're concerned about past posts, Facebook has a setting that lets you limit the audience for posts and information that are already on your profile. You can also go to the "Activity Log" on your timeline to get an action-by-action view of how your activity shows up on the site.
And finally, as Facebook itself makes clear, remember that "things you hide from your timeline still appear in news feed, search and other places on Facebook." There include some things you just can't hide, namely profile pictures and cover photos, but also some news feed activity.
Facebook said that teenagers would now be able to manually alter the setting and share information with the public. Until now, a teenager's postings on Facebook were only viewable to their friends, and to the friends of their friends.
Last updated: 28 September 2015
Tsukayama, Hayley. "Users Should Check These Settings As New Changes Roll Out." The Washington Post. 11 October 2013. Ngak, Chenda. "Viral "Facebook Privacy Notice" Is a Hoax." CBSNews.com. 5 June 2012. Stern, Joanna. "Ignore the 'Copyright' Facebook Post." ABC News. 26 November 2012. Sydiongco, David. "Don't Bother Posting the 'Facebook Privacy Notice' That's Spreading Around." Slate. 5 June 2012.