Facebook's Graph Search Forgets About Privacy

Facebook's Graph Search Forgets About Privacy

Facebook's Graph Search Forgets About Privacy

You're a private person, but still like to keep in touch with friends and colleagues via Facebook. Unfortunately, posting on Facebook and letting others know what's going on in your life opens you up to a certain lack of privacy.

Graph Search

Facebook developed its new "Graph Search" which, according to Search Engine Watch, allows users to enter a query such as 'who has been to Florence, Italy.' Facebook then displays these friends next to pertinent content. Graph Search also includes affinities and experiences of those friends. This may be all well and good, but can expose details a Facebook user wants hidden. Business Week notes if you're expecting certain aspects of yourself to stay hidden from public view, that might no longer be possible.

New Discoveries

Still, Facebook is entrenched in many people's lives, and they still want to use it. Its new Graph Search allows users to find people connections who have particular experiences and interests, including television shows, movies and games liked or watched by friends. Search Engine Watch says the feature can lead to "discovery marketing," although consumers typically are used to using Google, Bing and other search engines.

If Graph Search does take off, that could lead to potential privacy problems. As Business Week warns, many users "like" something on Facebook, and that "like" becomes permanent. It might be a harmless show of affinity for a topic, but it could be used in a potentially harmful way. While Graph Search might not directly increase the risk of identity theft or financial fraud, it could be helpful to add another layer of security through a company like LifeLock.org. It can detect threats to a person's identity and personal information and alert a customer to those threats. It also covers checking and savings account application alerts, and monitors credit bureau reports daily.

Make It Private

Lifehacker stresses keeping Facebook information private is getting more difficult all the time because the social network continually tries to make it public. It has written a guide to help people keep their Facebook profile "locked down."

Learn how the Facebook sidebar, Privacy Settings and Tools work. One tip is limiting the audience for past posts. If you have posts set to be viewed by "Friends of Friends" or the Public, you can limit them to Friends Only. If you don't want people to find your profile simply by searching your name, lock it down by switching to just Friends. If you don't want your Facebook profile indexed in Google, turn off this option.

Under the Timeline and Tagging section of Privacy Settings, you can review what other people see on your timeline. You can use this feature to view it from a friend's eyes and ensure you don't have private details showing to certain people. Lifehacker also advises you to understand App Settings. For instance, uncheck all the boxes under "How people bring your info to apps they use." This means your friends' apps can't access your information.

One way to ensure privacy on Facebook and its Graph Search is to simply not post anything you wouldn't want anyone to see. Or you can lead a perfect, faultless life. But since those options probably are easier said than done, it pays to understand how Facebook works and possibly enlist the help of an outside company that can help keep your life as private as you want it.


Mike is a Social Media Consultant and Blog Coach in St. Louis. He has been working with websites and the Internet since the early '90's. He is active on all of the major social networks and enjoys writing and teaching small business owners on how to leverage the Internet to promote and grow their business. Mike provides training and seminars to businesses and individuals on topics like "Content Marketing - Using Blogging + Social Media + SEO to equal Small Business Success" or "Establishing a Brand on Google+" or "How to use HootSuite to Manage Your Social Media Presence."

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