FACEBOOK PRIVACY: New changes make it easier to find anyone - KMSP-TV

FACEBOOK PRIVACY: New changes make it easier to find anyone

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When it comes to Facebook, most users want their friends -- and only their friends -- to see their profile, but some new changes make it a lot easier for people to find just about anyone.

It seems like Facebook rolls out a new feature every few months, but a new change to the privacy settings is raising concerns -- especially with advocates who work with those who try to keep a low profile on social media sites.

"I feel that only the people who I want to see my profile should be able to," said Sam Schwieters.

Online, maintaining personal privacy is often the best policy.

"I have it set up so they can't view my profile unless they send me a friend request and I accept them," Emmy Sutherland told Fox 9 News.

Until now, users who wanted to stay under the radar could keep their Facebook profiles invisible to anyone they hadn't already added to their friend list, but the social media giant is now allowing all profiles to be found under a name search.

Users can still keep unwanted eyes from seeing anything more than a name and a picture unless other items are allowed, but some worry that could put those who have left abusive relationships out in the open.

"One should never assume anything is private," Jennifer Polzin, an advocate with Tubman, cautioned.

Polzin said the new privacy settings could put victims in danger because it may be easier for their abusers to find them online.

"[Facebook] can be a great way to get support and stay connected, but it can also be a way you can be stalked or harassed," she explained.

According to Polzin, even if victims block an abuser, that person may still be able to find posts and pictures via mutual friends' pages. That's why, if all else fails, she tells victims to delete their Facebook accounts altogether and start over from scratch.

"It's really about being mindful about that and really, what are the ways you can stay in contact with those you want to and keep yourself as safe as possible," Polzin added.

Polzin recommends that victims of domestic abuse do not engage their abuser on social media, even if their abuser posts harassing or threatening messages. Instead, she recommends taking screen shots of them so they can be used as evidence in court.

Victims can also reach out to Tubman for advice by contacting the Crisis Line at 612-825-0000.

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