SharePoint Profiles, Privacy, and Search

Matthew Feczko is a program manager on the SharePoint engineering team, focused on social experiences.


You’re at the company meeting with thousands of fellow co-workers, and you meet Jim, who works on a partner team on the other side of the country. Besides what he looks like, you don’t know anything about him. You don’t know what projects he’s worked on, his expertise, or who you both know in common. Fortunately, you and Jim both have SharePoint profiles, so you can learn more about Jim, follow him, and stay connected even after the company meeting has ended.

Why update your profile?

Sharing who you are, your expertise, skills, and interests helps others find you when they need to get their job done. If you’re looking for someone with technical knowledge of a specific subject, you can search for that topic and find the right person to answer your question.  And, it’s a great way to meet others at your organization, especially when you work hundreds of miles away with thousands of other people.
To get started, fill out the About Me section, so that people can read your bio front and center on your profile. Then add key areas or topics to Ask Me About, Interests, and other areas of your profile, which help people find you more easily. Your profile contains much more, so fill out as much as possible!

Privacy settings

If you’re like me, you probably care a lot about privacy and how your personal information is presented online. That’s why we’ve made privacy settings in SharePoint clear and simple. Private is the default. If you travel around on SharePoint, follow people or documents, post in a community, etc. all of those activities will not appear in the newsfeed. You don’t have to worry about sharing something that wasn’t meant to be shared.
However, the first time you visit the newsfeed, we’ll invite you to change your privacy settings to be more social. We believe it’s useful and important to share your activities with your co-workers. This is how others will discover new and interesting people, communities, and more. If you accept, then we’ll set your activities to public. You can always go back to your profile and make everything private.

Your privacy settings, which are located on the “Newsfeed Settings” section of your profile, are broken into two parts: People and Activities.

People privacy

When the “People I follow” option is unchecked, visitors to your profile will not be able to see who you’re following and who’s following you. This information is completely hidden and protected.

Activities privacy

As Ben described earlier in the week, the newsfeed displays not only conversations, but also activities from people you follow. When you follow a new person, document, or site, or if your title changes or it’s your birthday, those events (and others) will trigger new posts in the newsfeeds of the people who have followed you. Your activities privacy settings control which of your activities, if any, are published in the newsfeed. Even if you make all your activities public, certain events, such as following a private document, are only ever seen by people who have access to the items in question.

People Search results

Once you’ve filled out your profile, other people can search and find you more easily. On any page, type keywords or names into the search box and let the magic happen. You can refine down your search results to search for Conversations, People, Video or just plain Everything.
People Search is powered not only by your profile, but also by the content that you produce—i.e. the posts you make, the documents you create, and the discussions you have on communities. So in a way, your profile is more than just what you put into it, it’s everything you do. 

Photo and Photo Sync

The last piece I want to share with you is probably one of my favorite improvements to the profile page: A larger and more prominent profile photo, so you can identify yourself to others. Make it all about you: include your kids, recent ski trip, or your Darth Vader costume. Whatever you like, the photo will look great. And what’s even better is that in this release we’ll sync your photo not only across SharePoint but Exchange too. This means, the same photo will appear all across the Office suite.
It only takes a few minutes to fill out your profile and update your privacy settings, and it will help others find you and get their jobs done. So don’t delay, update your profile today​