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Google Starts Indexing Facebook Comments 167

Posted by samzenpus
from the permanent-record dept.
First time accepted submitter SharkLaser writes "Users of Facebook Connect have previously enjoyed extra privacy as it was harder for Google to index comments made on the platform. Google, which also runs the competing service Google+, has now started indexing Facebook's public comments as well as comments made on platforms Disqus and Intense Debate, which all used programming that was hard for Google to read. Public comments and links made on those platforms will now be directly visible and searchable in Google."
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Google Starts Indexing Facebook Comments

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  • by 0racle (667029) on Wednesday November 02, 2011 @01:33PM (#37923578)
    Hey guys, where else can we find more drivel to dilute our search results?
    • Does Google index Slashdot comments?

    • by mjwx (966435)

      Hey guys, where else can we find more drivel to dilute our search results?

      homoeopathic.google.com [google.com]

  • Funny Summary! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by TaoPhoenix (980487) <TaoPhoenix@yahoo.com> on Wednesday November 02, 2011 @01:33PM (#37923582) Journal

    Forget TFA, I stopped reading the summary after "Users of Facebook Connect have previously enjoyed extra privacy..."

    The Slaves of Corporate Big Brother have also enjoyed extra silent company.

    • by robot256 (1635039)

      Forget TFA, I stopped reading the summary after "Users of Facebook Connect have previously enjoyed extra privacy..."

      As far as Facebook is concerned, ALL privacy is "extra", meaning unnecessary.

  • Google just tanked a few hundred thousand people's job applications. Corporations will be the only ones thanking them for this feature. Now since they've become a massive bank of information that knows no limits, I suppose this is only fair...

    #occupygoogle

    • by ClintJCL (264898)
      Yes, it couldn't possibly be useful to anyone else for any reason. (rolls eyes)
    • by nomel (244635) <turd@noSpAm.inorbit.com> on Wednesday November 02, 2011 @01:49PM (#37923804) Homepage Journal

      Posting a comment publicly means you have no problem with who sees it or how it's used. "Available to all" is the definition of "public". This is like shouting on a street corner and getting mad at someone listening!

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        This is more like having a discussion in a coffee shop and having 1000 random people write it down everything you said.

        • Re:Google does evil? (Score:4, Interesting)

          by mr1911 (1942298) on Wednesday November 02, 2011 @02:06PM (#37924046)

          This is more like having a discussion in a coffee shop and having 1000 random people write it down everything you said.

          This failed analogy underscores that people do not understand privacy and demonstrates why Facebook thrives.

        • I'm honestly sick of analogies like this. Google isn't writing it down. You wrote it down, and a Google-bot walked by, noticed it, and made a mental note of where to find it later, in case anyone asked.

          Google is less of a shady private investigator and more of a shady information broker--only instead of hanging out in a creepy back alley and only dealing with scumbags, they hang out front and center in the middle of town and make it much easier for pretty much everyone to lead their lives.

          • I'm honestly sick of analogies like this.

            Agreed, a car with a breathalyzer analogy would have been more appropriate.
            - somehow.

      • by Andrewkov (140579)

        Maybe it's more like having a casual conversation with a friend at a bar which is heard by someone miles away and years in the future.

        • If you have your casual conversation over unencrypted, megawatt-boosted ham radios.

        • by nomel (244635)

          Well yeah, if you record that conversation, and knowingly sprinkling the tapes all across the world for, *literally* anyone to access, forever.

          You don't have to post *publicly*...if you do post *publicly* then know that what you post is *public*.

          Seriously man?

      • The whole thing about Facebook, or Slashdot, is that they are evocative of a community... and having another site like Google or anyone else barge in and harvest what is something akin to a chat, and save it for ten thousand years, is bullshit.

        • The /. community != the Facebook community.

          For one, I can post AC if I want then I don't have to worry about anyone knowing that I think Texas should be given back to Mexico or any other ridiculous troll drivel that I feel like spewing at any minute. You don't have that luxury on FB unless you have troll accounts.

          Another huge difference is the use of pseudonyms on /. over the real names on FB. If I want to say idiotic shit on /. I'm safe to do so and have every right to do so as I do similarly on FB,
    • Re:Google does evil? (Score:5, Informative)

      by 0123456 (636235) on Wednesday November 02, 2011 @01:50PM (#37923820)

      If you're posting publically about things that future employers might feel would make you unsuitable for a position in their company, then you deserve anything you get.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Yes. Like religious and political leanings, your position on right to work, and worker's rights - anyone who reveals things an employer might not agree with deserves to get fired and never ever work again.

        • by Anonymous Coward

          This becoming more and more of a problem for the traditional social views of those who still believe some activities are sinful and harmful to society, but which are now politically correct to such an extent that being known to have such views, even without expressing them in the workplace, can be grounds for sanctions. I have stopped using FB for sharing deep beliefs with others who think similarly because of this - I have no idea where the postings will show up. Yes, this is a persecution complex that

      • by Desler (1608317)

        Yeah how dare anyone do anything or have views on issues contrary to what the corporate overlords approves of. That's downright treasonous and more than worthy of you getting a lifetime blacklist.

        Or, you know, these employers could just get their noses out of people's affairs that have nothing to do with their job?

        • by ari_j (90255)
          If you (1) intentionally post something online in a way that the entire world can see and (2) also expect portions of the world to disregard it in making a decision about you, the problem is with you.
      • by rsborg (111459)

        If you're posting publically about things that future employers might feel would make you unsuitable for a position in their company, then you deserve anything you get.

        Problem is, what is to determine the tastes of future employers for public speech. Say, for example, I post negative things about a proprietary technology that then becomes ubiquitous (ie, skype, twitter, twilio, etc). What about political speech?

        Sure you can post anonymously or pseudonymously, but speech/text can easily be analyzed for patterns to match against a known good source.

    • Maybe those people shouldn't have publicly posted information that would tank their job applications if read by potential employers. I have never understood the mindset that what you post on Facebook is Facebook's (or Google's) fault.
      • Historically, Facebook hasn't had any problem deciding that was once private is now public. Lots of people have posted stuff that was private, but is now public.

        On top of that, Facebook hasn't exactly tried very hard to make their privacy settings understandable or accessible. I'm sure lots of normal people (ie those not reading Slashdot) would be surprised just how public their lives are.

        • If it is on the PUBLIC internet, then it is PUBLIC, regardless of what you or anyone else says.

          If you remember this, then there is no problem with privacy as you understand that the INTERNET is not PRIVATE ... ever.

      • by Anonymous Coward

        Do you think that it is always obvious what information will hurt your chances of employment? You are probably thinking of photo albums of binge drinking and nudity, but what about views on social policy that the employer may not agree with? What about one poorly thought-out post, rethought and deleted a couple of days later, but cached forever? What about having a hobby that the employer views as frivolous? Not all information is parsed in an objective manner, even when people are trying to arrive at a

    • by RCL (891376)
      This should remind people that posting their opinions on controversial topics under their "real names" decreases their chances to get a job.

      Zuckerberg's idea of "single personality" makes it hard to separate professional and personal attitude.
  • by ThisIsSaei (2397758) on Wednesday November 02, 2011 @01:35PM (#37923602)
    The fact that it's only "public comments" killed that emotion.
  • Privacy? (Score:5, Funny)

    by Joehonkie (665142) on Wednesday November 02, 2011 @01:36PM (#37923624) Homepage
    I hate it when the information I post on a publicly readable service isn't private.
    • by msobkow (48369)

      Maybe there should be a seperate security option to allow Facebook users to decide whether they want their comments indexed or not.

      Personally I don't have an issue with it. A lot of people post some pretty interesting viewpoints to Facebook, treating it almost like a blog.

  • Looks like I picked a good time to quit facebook. :)
    • by nomel (244635)

      Or, you don't understand the definition of "public". One of the two. Probably the later.

      • I have always used the axiom that you don't put anything on the internet that you wouldn't want to show your mother, and your employer.
        For the record the reason I left was their constant messages telling me I have pending notifications. I did not. Every time I did log in they kept asking for my email credentials. Like hell they are ever getting those.
    • by Dunbal (464142) *
      No, a good time to quit was about 4 years ago before they started pulling all this shit.
  • It sounds like Facebook, Disqus, etc., used to use "programming" that made it hard for Google to index them. Apparently, that has changed. So... is this a change by Google or by the comment platforms? It sounds like it's the comment platform that changed, not Google.

    Why blame Google, again?

    For that matter... if you post something publically (public comments, not private/friends-only)... why should you expect that it won't be indexed?

    I'm just not seeing the reason for rage here.

    • by Compaqt (1758360) on Wednesday November 02, 2011 @02:17PM (#37924218) Homepage

      The "programming" mentioned in the Telegraph is that these comment service providers base their systems on JavaScript, which didn't used to be executed by Googlebot for comments.

      Now it will.

      People have privacy fears because these commenting systems use one login for the entire Web vs. having one for /., one for nytimes.com, one for example.com. Used to be you could be nutty on Slashdot, serious on nytimes.com, etc., without anybody being the wiser. The more websites move to Facebook comments, the more problems of this sort. Combine that with "real name" policies, and it's a privacy mess. More about it here [digitivity.org]

      • by Zebedeu (739988)

        And this is why I don't comment in places where they are using the Facebook commenting system.
        For example, 9Gag. I'd be damned before I put my real name to a 9Gag comment.

        I'm always amazed that some people there are willingly attaching their real names to comments on the NSFW posts.

  • by carou (88501) on Wednesday November 02, 2011 @01:55PM (#37923888) Homepage Journal

    Google starts to index an additional source of publicly available content.

    or in other words,
    nothing at all has happened.

    This should be tagged !story.

  • Google's job is to analyze the content of a web page to make it as relevant as possible to people searching for that information. The fact that the public facebook comments are rendered in javascript shouldn't mean anything to that mission. If there is information publicly available and that information is relevant to someone search, Google aims to lead the searcher to the information.

    No one ever said that a search engine should merely parse html. That's how it started, because that's the easiest way to get

    • by Compaqt (1758360)

      From a general nerd perspective, JavaScript==bad.

      It's the same sort of thing that nerds feel about Flash (Flash==bad).

      HTML==open==good.

      I'm not giving a argument for that feeling here, merely noting it.

      Here's a list of other Slashdot prejudices:
      Java bad
      Oracle bad
      Google good
      Apple good(?)
      Android good (depending on your perspective)
      C good
      C++ bad
      Unity/Gnome3 bad
      M$ bad
      WIndows bad/Linux good
      JavaScript bad (unnecessary use of)
      Flash bad
      Facebook bad

      • From a general nerd perspective, JavaScript==bad.

        It's the same sort of thing that nerds feel about Flash (Flash==bad).

        HTML==open==good.

        I'm not giving a argument for that feeling here, merely noting it.

        Here's a list of other Slashdot prejudices: Java bad Oracle bad Google good Apple good(?) Android good (depending on your perspective) C good C++ bad Unity/Gnome3 bad M$ bad WIndows bad/Linux good JavaScript bad (unnecessary use of) Flash bad Facebook bad

        For Facebook replace bad with Evil and for M$ replace bad with Devil, and you've summed-up perfectly...

      • by dmomo (256005)

        Java bad? I've not really gotten that impression, at least as a language. Post-Oracle takeover... I guess you have a point.

        Also: Python good, Ruby good, HTML5 good, IE Bad (even though, I must say it's improved a lot, just too little too late), Sony bad.

        • by Compaqt (1758360)

          Java bad: That's not my personal opinion. I actually like Java. But there's a strong anti-Java contingent on Slashdot. They're basically continuing the hatred from the bad old days of Java applets.

          Not that recent security problems have helped any.

  • As long as this drivel isn't included in my search results by default, I don't really mind it at all.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      As long as this drivel isn't included in my search results by default, I don't really mind it at all.

      Google Blocked Sites [google.com]

      You can always just block results from the Facebook.com domain from appearing in your results. I'm not sure I buy the idea that comments on Facebook are somehow different than the billions of comments Google already indexes from other sites, in a way that would "pollute" your search results.

  • This effectively makes semi-private posts (those set to viewable by friends only (or certain groups)) to completely public. That is the breach.

    There should be a reasonable expectation that those are not indexed and given to people they were not meant for.

    • If you friend Googlebot on Facebook then your private to friends posts will be indexed by Google.

      If you don't friend Googlebot on Facebook then your private to friends posts stay private to your friends.

      How this concept eluded you we will never know.

    • That would be awesome if they could search the comments available to you while you are logged in and subsequently cache them! Not illegal.
  • From TFA:

    Previously, search engines were unable to read comments because Facebook, Disqus and Intense Debate used programming that was not easy to read automatically.

    The comments appear as human-readable HTML.

    If a person can read the comments, a search engine can also easily read & index them.

    TFA provides no sources or references to support their claim that this comment-indexing is something new.

    Google's servers have been indexing Facebook comments from the beginning of Facebook. Whether those comments played a significant role in the pageranking algorithm is another matter.

  • by Kamiza Ikioi (893310) on Wednesday November 02, 2011 @02:11PM (#37924140) Homepage

    Here's what's funny. Everyone said, "Facebook will crush Google+ by copying its public posting ability!"

    Yet, Google was sitting there the whole time going, "Please copy us! Please! Please! Please!"

  • by liquidweaver (1988660) on Wednesday November 02, 2011 @02:13PM (#37924160)
    1.) Google indexes Facebook comments 2.) Facebook comments become #1 target for spammers worldwide 3.) Facebook becomes a diluted, email-esque spam haven.... 4.) ...driving all users to Google+, since they - conspicuously - don't index their comments.
  • PageRank worked for almost a decade because it lists results from popular sites before obscure sites.

    The internet has changed.

    Nowadays, Google is great if you're looking for popular stuff like lolcats, memes, angry blogs, discussion forums full of questions and no answers, or corporate propaganda from the 10,000 websites owned by the 10 largest companies in the world.

    But for anything else, you can search for days without finding the good stuff. Google is less useful to me at this point than IRC, because if

  • So this is just for Facebook Connect? Like if you post a comment to an article on a 3rd party site that allows you to post via your Facebook account?

    I figured it was search engine usable, after all it is public. But it is good for people to be aware all the same that someone searching your name on Google will be seeing your posted comments very quickly if you used Facebook to post it (depending on your name). Using Facebook Connect to do that does a lot more than just let you post a comment.

  • I use fb as a basic blog and make my Notes public. I have no problem with them being searchable. After all, only people with a fb account can comment.
  • by Animats (122034) on Wednesday November 02, 2011 @02:30PM (#37924378) Homepage

    From the article:

    "The update means links featured in comments will also enhance websites' standing.

    Social is bad for search, and search is bad for social. Every attempt by a major search engine to use social signals has been heavily spammed. Social spamming is cheaper and easier than creating link farms - the social sites host the spam for free.

    Google Places was hit hard starting in October 2010, when Places results were mixed in with web search results. It happened fast - within two months, Google Places was choked with spam, with both phony locations and phony reviews. This was so bad that the mainstream press picked up on it, and Google had to deemphasize "places" results. You don't hear Google talking about "local" as much as they did a year ago.

    Citysearch and Yelp are choked with spam reviews. Google +"1"s are for sale for about $0.15 to $0.25 each. [googleplus1supply.com] Facebook fans cost about $0-05 each. [bulkfans.com] Google's "real names" policy was an attempt to crack down on phony accounts, but it didn't work. You can buy phone and email verified Google accounts in bulk. [freelancer.com] There are rogue phone services that help with the fake phone numbers. [attlines.com]

    Using social signals for search has reduced search quality and jammed social sites with junk that's only read by search spiders. Facebook (which has to allow Google to do this) just set themselves up for an influx of junk. And Google just reduced their search quality again.

    There are useful social signals for search, but they come from systems that see transactions and actually know who bought something, like Amazon, eBay, and Visa International. Even those can be spammed; you can buy an old eBay account, change the name, and inherit the old reputation. [ebay.com]

    • by janeil (548335)
      +5 for a relevant informative post, I find that info amazing but easy to believe. This is the free market at its best, right?

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