Facebook just announced that they are now allowing public searches of their users by people without Facebook accounts.
Not much information is included in the results (see image below)- just the name and primary photograph included in the user profile, and users can easily elect to stop search engines from indexing their information by changing their privacy settings.
As Om Malik notes, this is yet another competitive threat in the burgeoning people search scene. We’ve recently covered five new people search engines – Spock, Wink, Zoominfo, WikiYou and PeekYou. All of these services count on the fact that people information is distributed across many different websites and services.
To the extent any one service such as Facebook (or LinkedIn, etc.) gather lots of centralized information about a large group of people and then make it available for general search, these people search engines become much less important. If these startups were public entities, their market valuations would dip today.