Facebook’s controversial Graph Search function is now rolling out to all US English-based users and, as a full release to all users nears, the network is reminding members to take stock of their privacy settings.
Graph Search beta was announced back in January as a way to allow users to search Facebook’s masses of data for more than just people. With graph search, users can look up “restaurants that my friends like” “friends of friends who live in Cork”, “friends who work in [company name]” or “photos of me and [friend’s name]”.
While this can certainly have manifold uses, others pointed out its more questionable uses. One blogger performed some worrying Facebook Graph Searches such as “single women who live nearby and who are interested in men and like getting drunk” and “Islamic men interested in men who live in Tehran”, all of which returned results.
While Facebook promotes Graph Search as a way to find people, places and things on the network, others see it as a threat to privacy by combining shared information in a way users may not have considered before.
Graph Search adheres to users’ current privacy settings so nothing is searchable that hasn’t already been shared. That said, its growth should serve as a reminder to users to revisit their privacy settings and truly consider how wide their network might reach.
Facebook is doing the responsible thing and, as Graph Search rolls out to a wider users base, users will receive a notification letting them know what this means and reminding them to check who can see what they share on the social network.
Millions of users have been using the beta product since January, testing and providing feedback. The release now being rolled out to more users is said to be faster, better at sorting relevant results, have a greater understanding of semantics, and feature a bigger, easier-to-use search box.
The roll-out to Facebook members using US English should be completed over the next couple of weeks.