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Facebook Graph Search Raises Privacy Concerns

by Jane Susskind, published

What is Facebook Graph Search?

In January, Facebook released Graph search, a function designed to allow users to tap into the vast amount of user information to search for specific results among friends based on specific criteria.

In a valiant effort to challenge Google's monopoly over search engines, Facebook Graph Search recognizes traditional keyword searches, but is also equipped with auto-complete options and the functionality to interpret grammar rules and their implications on search terms. The interface is also built to understand synonyms and related words, but is still in its infancy, with just "one percent" of the work complete, according to the Facebook engineering team.

What makes Facebook Graph Search Different? 

Unlike Google search results, Facebook Graph Search produced highly personalized search results. While Google search results vary slightly and provide the option of including results from friends, Facebook Graph Search is structured around your friends on the social network. For example, you can search "Friends who live in New York," or "Restaurants my family members have been to in Madrid," or "People who like Daft Punk," and generate highly unique and personalized search results.

Facebook Graph Search allows you to use the Internet in a way that we previously didn't think possible, answering questions we previously didn't think the Internet was capable of. Instead of searching through each one of your friends' profiles on Facebook, checking their current city, Facebook does it for you. Facebook Graph Search pieces together information that would take us hours to do manually.

At What Cost? 

The way Facebook presents Graph Search, which will soon be available to all 1 billion of its users, seems too good to be true, or at least too good to be free. As with most consumer-based products, it does come at a cost: the cost of privacy.

Marketo put together this infographic mapping Facebook Graph Search's effects on your privacy. With 28 percent of users sharing all, or almost all, of their wall posts with an audience wider than just their friends and 13 million Facebook users reporting to have never touched their privacy settings, now might be the time to re-evaluate what you share on the social network.

Facebook Graph Search Privacy 1

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