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Say what? Google now indexing Facebook comments

Your name might be a little more searchable these days, as Google now indexes comments you publish on Web sites using the Facebook Comments platform.

On People.com, only Facebook users can comment. (The news story in question is about Justin Bieber going on a date to an R-rated movie with Selena Gomez, by the way.)

Your name might be a little more searchable these days, as Google now indexes comments you publish on Web sites using the Facebook Comments platform.

The change came to light Monday, when Digital Inspiration noticed that Googlebots, the technology that scans Web pages, now recognizes comments encased in JavaScript platforms like Facebook Comments, Disqus, and Echo.

Matt Cutts, a Google team member, later confirmed this discovery, tweeting: "Googlebot keeps getting smarter. Now has the ability to execute AJAX/JS to index some dynamic comments."

Web sites like DailyBeast, Patch, and Examiner, which use the Facebook Social Plugin, let readers leave comments using their Facebook profile instead of forcing them to create a new account.

Comments published using the platform are accompanied by the user's name, profile picture, and a link to his or her Facebook profile.

To many users, Facebook Comments is a convenience, eliminating the need to create a unique account, username, and password each time they comment on a different Web site or blog.

The Social Plugin also makes Web site managers happy, as the convenience to leave comments without creating a new account encourages user engagement. But until today, the benefit of Facebook Comments came at the expense of SEO (search engine optimization), as comments left via Facebook were not indexed by Google.

Now that Google Search indexes Facebook comments on third-party sites, we'll likely see an increase in Web sites implementing the platform in an attempt to boost their searchability. But what does this mean for users?

  • A Google search for your name may reveal your comments. Since your Facebook account is tied to your (presumably) real name, anyone googling you may stumble upon your political, religious, or general views expressed in comments you've left across the Web. Consider this when leaving comments using the Facebook Comments platform.

  • Log out. If you're logged in to Facebook while visiting a site with Facebook Comments enabled, the site will automatically make you leave comments using your profile. However, there's a workaround.
    Screenshot by Sharon Vaknin/CNET

  • Use an anonymous identity. Some Web sites that have integrated Facebook Comments will still let you create an account for leaving comments the old-school way. If so, log out of Facebook (using the tip above) and sign up for a new account with an anonymous username so you can publish comments care-free.

  • Check your privacy settings. Now that Google is indexing your comments, you might decide you no longer want to leave comments via Facebook. However, some Web sites have already associated your Facebook profile with their site. Head to your Facebook Privacy Settings and click "Edit Settings" for Apps & Websites. Then click "Edit Settings" for "Apps you use" and click the "x" next to any sites you want to disassociate your profile from.
Screenshot by Sharon Vaknin/CNET

Also worth noting is that comments you leave on public Facebook Pages (like brands and celebrities) are also indexed by Google, but comments you leave on friends' profiles are not.