In the past week, Google, Facebook and Instagram have all announced security changes that will affect Officer Safety.

The most serious change comes from Facebook.
The company announced Thursday it is officially axing a privacy setting that allowed people to hide their profiles from other users in Facebook’s search field.

The setting “who can look up my timeline by name” had already disappeared from the options for some users — specifically, those who weren’t using the feature in December of last year.

The new change affects a “small percentage of people” on the site who were still using the feature, Facebook (FB, Fortune 500) said, although it did specify how many of its 1.15 billion active users were impacted.

Facebook explained that the search tool has been expanded to allow broader searches by topics, geographical areas and a number of other search criteria.

Facebook has also expanded its internal search capabilities with the roll out of Graph Search. The feature allows users to sift through the social network’s vast data trove to find “friends who live in my city,” “tourist attractions in Italy visited by my friends,” and similar lists. It also allows Facebook to eventually challenge sites that rate and rank local attractions like restaurants and hotels.

Facebook announced that users would no longer be able to block people with whom they are not connected from seeing their profile when searching the social network, a change that could boost the Graph Search feature CEO Mark Zuckerberg championed in a launch event earlier this year. The company said in a blog post that a “small percentage of people still using the setting” would lose it soon, after Facebook stopped offering to block searches for anyone who had not already chosen the option earlier this year.

Facebook has also changed their security threshold for their photo-sharing service Instagram allowing more people to see your photos. The Next Web reported that an update to the popular app takes away the option of not allowing videos to play automatically when a user visits the timeline. The move follows the announcement earlier this week that Instagram would begin to serve advertisements in users’ streams, the first revenue-generating attempt by the San Francisco company since Facebook committed $1 billion in a 2012 acquisition.

Google has also lifted some of their security restrictions, now sharing your photos and other information in advertisements and free displays.

What once was tucked away in your on-line privacy file has been opened and there’s not much that you can do about it.

For officer safety, we suggest that you restrict all pictures and post non-specific information and opt not to include details about your job, home address, phone number or even your favorite restaurant.

In recent years, there have been a number of private security personnel who have been assaulted while off-duty because of an incident that they were involved with while on-duty. Several situations also proved that the assailant had followed the security officer home from their work assignment and in a recent case; an assailant used public information to locate and assault a security officer for having him arrested for shoplifting.

Two security officers killed last year while off duty were found to have been targeted by persons that they had previous confrontations with while on duty.

Remember that once you post something on the Internet, you lose control of it and it’s almost impossible to take back once it has been published. For your safety, and the safety of your family,
use caution, be responsible and let common sense be your guide.

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