On Tuesday morning Facebook announced the next step in their effort to stay relevant to users and ad clients: Graph Search. They labeled it as the “third pillar” of the social graph, the others being timeline and news feed. Graph Search provides a method for finding specific information: people, places, photos, and interests within your network of connections.
Graph search will flood Facebook with data about what their users are looking for. After I search, “friends who treat their pets like people,” they can start marketing cat food and litter boxes and flea medicine and cat toys to me.
The search is still in beta mode and Mark Zuckerberg explained it will still take years to index all the available content for graph search’s intended purpose. It’s exciting to think that soon I’ll be able search for “pictures of my friends eating food,” “friends who like bowling AND spaghetti”, or “places my friends have been with fluorescent lighting,” but how exactly will this be rolled out? When will I be able to start searching for “embarrassing photos of people I went to high school with that I can share on Reddit”?
It’s a reminder that we need to check on what content we’ve put on the internet via Facebook that we don’t want index-able by Graph Search. With all of the privacy breaches Facebook has been accused of in recent years, this is a bold move from the social behemoth. Before finding new ways to exploit the vast amount of content uploaded by its users every day, they should spend some time educating the public on how to tailor their Facebook accounts to the level of privacy control they are comfortable with. Graph search won’t change any settings, but it will completely take advantage of what you will allow people to see. So before Graph Search gets in to full swing, spend some time in your privacy settings.