Discovering Old Friends on Facebook

As more and more people jump onboard social networking sites, they are increasingly becoming ideal ways to rediscover old acquaintances. With the rapidly improving person search engines, one should easily be able to rediscover old friends or teachers.

But networks like Facebook and MySpace are having to make sacrifices in usefulness to accommodate users’ privacy. For example, for the default Facebook profile, only a person’s name is searchable. As you can imagine, finding a specific Tom Smith isn’t so easy.

You might know you’re looking for someone named Fred Jones, born around 1965 and graduated from FDR High. Brad Templeton has a great idea for how Facebook could improve this system:

What would be nice would be a way to specify you are looking for a person with a given name, and to provide other data like their age and perhaps school. Then, all the people who match that would get a notification with the brief query. This would not be a full blown e-mail, they would just see a notice that somebody is looking for “the Fred Jones born around 1965 who went to Comdex.” and if they were that Jones they could follow-up on it (or ignore) and if they weren’t they would not see it again and could block seeing any further notes like this.

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