Facebook’s Latest Threat to Privacy: Graph Search

Facebook users that have been a little uneasy about their often questionable privacy settings now have something else to worry about.  Actually, there may be more and more people that join this paranoid bandwagon as more light is shed on this new Facebook demographic-sorting tool.

Meet Facebook’s Graph Search. Its creator has claimed that the Graph Search will “transform its user experience….and torment privacy activist.” Not exactly a stellar pitch.

The Graph Search essentially allows users to filter through their friends with more accuracy. This is due to the Graph Search’s ability to reveal information about users that they probably didn’t originally want many of their Facebook friends finding.

crowded_street_largeHere’s a theoretical real-life example of how Graph Search works. Let’s say you are a man walking down a busy New York street. You are wearing a black shirt and a red hat. With Graph Search, people that pass you will not only be able to identify you as a male wearing a black shirt and red hat, but that you also enjoy reading true-crime thrillers, The Beatles, hot dogs, and your favorite baseball team is the Orioles.

In a more true-to-form example, Graph Search will let users search through not only their friends, but the friends of your friends. You can sort through them with specifics such as “Friends that enjoy classical music” or “Friends that live in Texas that work from home.” Graph Search will return a list of people that meet those exact specifications.

Sure, there is nothing wrong (fundamentally, anyway) about people looking through other pages and accounts that you have “liked.” But when your “likes” and interests have been rounded up as a means of targeted marketing, that’s when the privacy issue becomes shaky. There is a huge difference between meeting a new colleague that later looks you up on Facebook. But for that colleague to be able to target you by relationship status, previous places you have lived and worked, or the sort of TV shows you enjoy can get rather scary.

The key is here is to remain selective about the sort of information you post to Facebook—even when it comes to your user profile. If you don’t want someone knowing your specifics, don’t reveal them.

What say you, internet? What are your feelings on Facebook’s new Graph Search?

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