Ning Help Center

Member Privacy and Search Engines

Member Privacy and Search Engines
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When members join your Ning Network, they may not realize that they’re creating an online profile of themselves. Like with most content online, this profile and information may be visible to anyone, including friends, family, employers, and strangers if certain privacy settings aren’t designated. That’s why it’s important to pick the appropriate settings for your Ning Network and to educate your members about who can see their profile activity, and the privacy options available to them.

Educating your members about the privacy setting of your network can help them determine what information they want to share on their profile. If you’ve chosen to have a public Ning Network, their name and profile might turn up in search engine results on sites like Google and Yahoo. Although members can update their personal privacy settings, their name, photo and any information they’ve chosen to keep public may appear in search results if your Ning Network is public. Here’s what that looks like:

On the flip side, if your Ning Network is completely private, member profiles and content won’t appear in search results. With only the main page as public, search engines won’t be able to crawl your members’ My Pages, but keep in mind any and all activity that shows up on the main page (including the Latest Activity feed) is fair game. Essentially, search engines can crawl and display anything that a person browsing your Ning Network (but not signed in) can see. For the utmost privacy for your members, you’ll want to make your network private.

If having a private Ning Network won’t work for you and your members are in any way uncomfortable with their information appearing in search results, you can edit your robots.txt file to prevent search engines from indexing specific pages. Alternatively, you suggest to your members that they use only their first name and update their other basic information and the privacy settings as appropriate.

Even after you change your Ning Network from public to private, or a member updates or removes information from their profile or makes it private, it may still appear in search results, as search engines take some time to update. However, after a little while, the search results should reflect the new or updated information. The time this update can take varies between search engines, so you may also want to contact the search engine directly if you have other questions about content appearing in search results.

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