After being stuck in beta for over six months, Facebook finally made ‘Graph Search’ available to users with the ‘US English’ language setting. Graph Search accesses the masses of data produced by users, utilising everything from places you’ve visited to Likes and photos.
The release comes after “tens of millions of people have helped improve the product just by using it and giving feedback.” Graph Search works by answering queries using the information people have voluntarily shared via their Facebook account. Everything from the restaurants you’ve liked, cities you’ve visited, and even your current relationship status can be used to answer searches.
Facebook is adamant that Graph Search is not a rival to Google. Zuckerberg himself has been keen to differentiate the two, showing they can live alongside each: “Web search is designed to take any open-ended query and give you links that might have answers. Graph Search is designed to take a precise query and give you an answer, rather than links that might provide an answer.”
The ideal is that users will utilise Graph Search for appropriate, and more importantly brand-responsible, ways. For example, when planning a holiday you might want to see what ‘Restaurants in San Francisco Liked by my friends’ there are.
But due to the openness of the algorithm used ion Graph Search, it’s open to abuse. Following the beta release of Graph Search in January this year, the Tumblr account ‘Actual Facebook Graph Searches’ did a brilliant job of exposing some of the service’s more strange and creepy possibilities. Want to find ‘Married people who like Prostitutes’? Not a problem. Looking for ‘Single women who live nearby and are interested in men and like Getting Drunk’? No worries – here’s a list of their names and pictures.
Facebook is aware of the implications of its new feature and is doing its best to tackle these privacy issues head on.
But the problem is Facebook itself and the fact its privacy settings are a minefield and can generally leave the user exposed.
Watch the following video from Facebook to learn more about Graph Search and your privacy (or lack of).
You can read more about Graph Search and privacy on Facebook: