Earlier this month, Facebook announced an upcoming new feature that would help users explore the social network in a “whole new way”.
Currently in limited beta, Facebook Graph Search, provides Facebook users with an easier way to find the information you have shared on the social network.
Alarm bells rang in the heads of the privacy-conscious, disturbed that Facebook Graph Search might dredge up data about yourself that you once posted (and have forgotten about) or how the system could be used to cross-relate different pieces of information about you with potentially uncomfortable or unpleasant results.
A new blog called Actual Facebook Graph Searches highlights the potential problem very clearly.
For instance, here are married people who like prostitutes:
Charming. I wonder what their partners think?
Perhaps more sinisterly, here are Chinese people who like the banned Falun Gong sect:
And, if you’re wondering who to invite down the pub on a Friday night, here are single women who are interested in men, and even more interested in getting drunk:
What a time saver Facebook Graph Search can be! I guess it’s cheaper than online dating..
These are just some of the examples shown on the Actual Facebook Graph Searches blog, but no doubt you can dream up your own.
In fairness, Facebook does remind users of the importance of using its privacy settings, and explains how to configure them.
It’s the responsibility of each Facebook user to be mindful of what information they share on the social network – and realise that they can’t shirk off the part they played in publishing the information in the first place.
This information was always there on Facebook, it’s just that Graph Search makes it easier to extract and join the dots than ever before.
Maybe it would be wise if everyone double-checked their Facebook account, their past posts and Likes, and remove anything which they feel might be unwise to share once Facebook Graph Search is unleashed more widely.
If you can’t configure your privacy settings properly, or keep being duped into Liking things you didn’t really mean to, then maybe it would be best if you dedicated some time to learning the lessons of how to run your social networking account more safely and initiated a thorough clean-up.