Watch Out for Facebook Graph Search (get Net Nanny Social?)

Mar 26, 2013

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Facebook Graph SearchWe have been warned time and again about posting too much information on the Internet and on Facebook. The Internet has a life-long memory, we've been told.

Now Facebook is capitalizing on this fact with its new feature: Graph Search. Graph Search is still in beta, but is expected to be available later this year.

Basically, Graph Search takes everything you’ve posted on Facebook and makes it searchable.

Example: Graph Search allows you to more efficiently search your list of friends for things such as your friends in [city] who like [restaurant]. Graph Search will scan your list of friends and identify those in that city who ‘liked’ that particular restaurant.

At first glance, this seems like a fairly benign feature that could provide useful info. The frightening part is that you can also ask it to search the friends of your friends, and any profiles with a privacy setting as “public.”  This fact could make it very useful for someone to exploit you.

The list of those who are excited about Graph Search includes:

  • Advertisers can more easily target ads to you because advertisers know which products you ‘like.’
  • Spammers and phishers will use Graph Search to find users with specific interests who were kind enough to post their email addresses. This means you can be targeted more specifically with potentially more plausible scams which will seem very real because of the specific knowledge related to you.
  • Predators could use it to find out which activities or locations are popular among a set of teens in the area – to target them away from home.

Facebook says this about Graph Search: “Like adults, minors can appear in search results. Some things, like their school, current city, hometown or birthday may only be visible to their friends, or friends of their friends who are also minors.”

If you are friends with a minor, they will not be excluded from your search results. This is ok if the minor trusts all of their FB friends; however, given the tendency of sexual predators to add young, naïve teens on Facebook, there’s no guarantee that information will stay private.

Warning: don’t let your teen add “friends” s/he doesn’t know on Facebook.

What can be done?

  • Don’t set your Facebook profile to “public.” If you set your profile to the strictest privacy settings, then your friends will only be able to search you.
  • If you have posted inappropriate or embarrassing comments, pictures or videos, take time to delete them.
  • If you ever “liked” something that was inappropriate, Graph Search will remember.  You should review your list of “likes” and delete anything you really don’t like or don’t want to be connected with.

If you’re worried about your child posting inappropriate things on Facebook, consider using Net Nanny Social, our new parental control software which has the ability to monitor your teen’s social network activity and much more.

I work for Net Nanny and all opinions are my own.