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23/03/2013 by

Facebook Graph Search Raises Privacy Concerns

Facebook recently unveiled Graph Search in pioneering its social media business, and it’s got everyone from privacy activists to corporate brands trying to assess how it will affect Facebook’s more than one billion users.

Facebook Graph Search Raises Privacy Concerns

Whenever Facebook makes any big announcement, red flags are always raised. It is starting to become clear that privacy is too expensive of a luxury for social media companies.

If Facebook is going to meet investor demands, it will need to further monetize the information its users freely share on its network.

Joining the Timeline and Newsfeed, Facebook’s Graph Search is now the platform’s third pillar. Currently, users post updates on their timeline, which is then shared on other users’ newsfeeds for interaction.

Graph Search allows you to get recommendations from your friends’ activity without needing to ask for their help. Users can simply search to find what brands your friends like and interact with.


Graph Search may prove beneficial to many Facebook users

As the internet continues to be flooded with exponentially more content, the ability to help match a user with content they enjoy can be quite valuable.

Facebook is where people go to talk about that great movie they saw on opening weekend or that classic book they can’t wait to tell their friends about.

Next time I can’t think of what film to stream on Netflix, I’ll be seeing if Graph Search can find any recommendations for me.

What about questions from privacy advocates?

Writer Tom Scott compiled a list on his blog of Graph Searches that could be potentially embarrassing. He included everything from “Islamic men interested in men who live in Tehran, Iran” to “married people who like Ashley Madison,” which is a website that enables extra-marital encounters.

Sensitive searches such as these have serious implications. The introduction of this search tool may also help identity thieves. Unless users are careful about sharing settings, identity thieves may be able to gather enough personal information to cause mayhem to someone’s credit.

Casual Facebook users who are concerned about their privacy are not the only ones asking questions about how this new feature will affect them. Many small businesses and large corporations spend significant time and money trying to increase engagement on their Facebook page.

The prevailing wisdom for companies before Graph Search was to invest their resources into building up brand pages. For large national chains such as Best Buy or Olive Garden, it made the most sense to interact with Facebook users on the national brand page as opposed to a store by store basis.

Early adopters of Graph Search believe that Facebook will give local Facebook pages more influence

If I am looking for a burrito recommendation in Midtown Manhattan, I may decide to use Graph Search to crowd source for my big decision.

However, it’s not helpful if I am pointed towards Chipotle’s corporate offices because several of my friends have liked the national “Chipotle Mexican Grill” page on Facebook.

As someone who once visited the Taco Bell corporate headquarters in Irvine, CA, trust me when I tell you they are not amused when you ask the receptionist where to get a double-decker taco.

Facebook Graph Search should give a boost to companies with few locations or companies that invest in building up each store’s local page.

Any time Facebook introduces new features, the announcement is met with some trepidation. This is understandable because of the scale of Facebook’s user base as well as how much of our personal information it sees.

Fortunately, Graph Search is slowly being rolled out in beta, so there should be enough time to resolve privacy concerns.

As always, however, it is important to look at your privacy settings as well as those of your children or technologically-challenged elders.

What About You?

Are you looking forward to trying Facebook’s Graph Search, or are you concerned about what information will be shared?

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About the Author

This article was written by Emiah Gardner, the editor of the Cable TV blog. Follow her @EmiahGardner


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