Google Now Indexes Some Facebook Comments

googleThe world’s largest online search engine, Google, is now indexing Facebook comments that are posted using the Facebook Commenting plugin on websites that use the plugin to power their commenting system.

If you use your Facebook account to post a comment on a website that uses Facebook Comments, your comment (with your name) can now be indexed by Google’s web spiders and will be directly ranked and searchable in Google’s index.

 This is not to be confused with posting comments directly on Facebook. Facebook has always set its system permission settings to block all web spiders from viewing, storing, or otherwise having any access to private information.

Currently, Google bot is only able to index comments from the Facebook Comments system (use XFBML standard if you’re a publisher and want to increase the likelihood of comment indexing), and not other commenting systems that allow users to login with Facebook, including the popular commenting system IntenseDebate offered by Automattic, the parent company of the world’s most popular blogging platform WordPress.

It is perfectly reasonable for Facebook users to assume that all comments they post with their Facebook account are not searchable online, and for that reason, Facebook should make it more clear to its users that comments they post are not only visible to website participants, rather, they’re visible to the world (yes, including employers, which could get you fired at Apple). It is unclear if the two companies reached a deal to allow Google to index the comments, but either way, Facebook should now make it clear to its users and even offer an opt-out option.

Publishers may find some added benefit in improved search engine rankings from the indexed comments, but the new policy could be more disadvantageous for Google users looking for more relevant search results – an issue Google continues to struggle with today.

Google already indexes social media content, including messages posted on Twitter.

As Google tries to deliver results in real-time, it faces the challenge of disseminating all this information (and weeding out spam and less useful information) across social channels into meaningful information its users are seeking.

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Tahir holds a Bachelor Commerce Finance degree from Ryerson University in Toronto. He is planning to purse an MBA in Finance. Write to [email protected]
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