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Facebook Rolls Out Graph Search to U.S. Users

The new feature makes it easier to find information, but also has some worrisome privacy implications.

Facebook has announced that all English-speaking U.S. users will soon have access to the Graph Search feature announced earlier this year. It allows more advanced searches, but could have some embarrassing results for people who haven't paid much attention to their privacy settings.

PCMag's Angela Moscaritolo reported, "The social network on Monday will begin rolling out its new advanced Graph Search feature to English-speaking users in the U.S., Facebook announced in a blog post. First unveiled in January, Graph Search offers a new way for Facebook users to wade through the 1 trillion connections on the site for information about what their friends like, where they've been, and more."

Vindu Goel with The New York Times explained, "Facebook’s Graph Search is still a work in progress, as company officials are quick to acknowledge. Its recognition of synonyms and related topics is spotty. It cannot yet find information in status updates, a top request from users. It does not yet incorporate information from third-party apps like Yelp or Instagram, which is owned by Facebook. And the new search tool is not available on Facebook’s mobile apps, which are increasingly the way that people use the service. But Facebook believes it is now good enough for wide release. And despite the tool’s limitations, technologists praised the company’s work."

Joanna Sterns with ABC News noted, "But making all of Facebook more easily searchable does have privacy repercussions. While your information is only searchable and visible to those whom you have shared it with in the first place, the new tool does make it much easier for your information to be resurfaced by those you have shared it with. As such, Facebook will remind all users about how they can control what they share and who they share it with. A small alert will pop up over the privacy tools area in the upper right hand side of the page when users get the new tool."

The Washington Posts's Hayley Tsukayama warned, "Graph Search respects the privacy settings you’ve already popped onto your posts and photos, but that doesn’t mean that everything you have on Facebook has the setting you want it to have.... A search for pictures from my hometown in Minnesota turned up pictures I took on my last trip home but also strangers’ wedding photos and baby photos, images of people holding up diplomas — complete with their full names — and pictures of people in their bathrobes at home. None of which these strangers were probably planning on sharing with the world or, almost certainly, with a reporter at The Washington Post."




Tags: Facebook, social network, privacy, Graph Search


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