How to Find Someone on Facebook If You Are Not on Facebook
By Filonia LeChat
Updated September 13, 2017
You don't need a Facebook account to access much of its content. You can see company and celebrity pages, as well as photos and personal profiles of friends and family – provided they have not put privacy restrictions on what they have shared. In 2017, there are two ways to search for people in Facebook. One way is to use its mobile search page. The other is to use a search engine like Google or Bing.
Using Facebook Search
Open any web browser and go to m.facebook.com/search/ in the address bar. The website m.facebook.com is optimized for mobile devices, but it can be used on computers too. Facebook doesn't have a publicly-available search page on its main website.
Type your friend's name in the search field and press Enter. A list of people matching the name you entered is displayed as well as any publicly-available profile images. Select your friend from the list and enter the CAPTCHA text that appears to access your friend's profile.
Using a Search Engine
Go to your favorite search engine and type the name of the person you want to find. To specify you want to find information only on Facebook, type "site: facebook.com" after the name, such as: John Doe site:facebook.com.
If you don't see the results you want, narrow down the search by adding the person's city after his name. If you know your friend uses a specific variation of his name, put that name in quotation marks to eliminate similar names. For example, if your friend always goes by "Johnny Doe" without a middle name or initial and has always lived in Detroit, you could search for: "Johnny Doe" Detroit site: Facebook.com.
If you get too many results, you might want to try an image search engine, like images.google.com. Using the same search criteria, you may be able to more quickly pick out your friend's photo from the crowd.
Searching Facebook without a Facebook account is not the ideal way to look up someone you know.
One problem is that you won't be able to contact your friend. You need an account to send someone a Facebook message or to write on her profile wall.
Secondly, if your friend has chosen to make her information private, the most you will see is a picture and her name. If your friend has opted to remove her profile from being accessed by web browsers like Google, you won't get any information at all. On the other hand, if you were friends on Facebook, or even if you had one mutual friend on the service, you would most probably be able to see more posts, videos, photos and other content.
A third disadvantage is that as you scroll through your friend's profile, you will be habitually prompted to create an account. This won't stop you from seeing what's publicly-available, but you will have to close the pop-up every time you attempt to scroll down the page, which can become a nuisance if you do a lot of scrolling.
- After you've found the person on Facebook, accessibility to his information is limited depending on his site's privacy settings. On Facebook, a person can opt to be public or private. Public means that you'd be able to see the page and all of its information from an external website, though you won't be able to use any of Facebook's contacting features. If the setting is private, you'll see just the person's site photo and name.
Fionia LeChat is a technical writer whose major skill sets include the MS Office Suite (Word, PowerPoint, Excel, Publisher), Photoshop, Paint, desktop publishing, design and graphics. LeChat has a Master of Science in technical writing, a Master of Arts in public relations and communications and a Bachelor of Arts in writing/English.