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Facebook gets even creepier with Graph Search function released today.

Kris Carlon
7

As if Facebook didn't let you be creepy enough already, now the social networking giant has added a new feature that allows you to compile stats on your friends. Graph Search, which was rolled out to some users in a beta version months ago, is now being rolled out for North American users. Graph Search ostensibly lets you run queries on the data included in you and your friend's Facebook pages.

teaser facebook
Facebook wants you to see your friends how they see them. / © Google Play Store

So if you want to know who's still living in your hometown, Facebook will tell you. If you want to know who has posted photos from Vegas, Facebook will tell you. And if you want to know who has recently split up with their partner, Facebook will undoubtedly tell you that too.

As Facebook told the ABC, the Search Graph function is ''designed to take a precise query and give you an answer, rather than links that might provide an answer,'' as web searches do. Of course, this all relies on how much detail you and your friends go into on your profiles.

And the idea is, of course, to get Facebook users sharing even more data with Facebook's advertisers, I mean, other Facebook users.

CreepingUnknown
It may not be horror film territory but it is creepy. / © Hammer Films

Now, this may be entirely harmless, useful even, but it just smacks of another Facebook upgrade that feels like it's there to benefit the moneymakers, not the actual users. I mean, do I really care enough about half this information to run a search on it? Isn't the fact my friends casually share it with me already enough? I'd like to think I already know which of my friends share my taste in music. They are my friends after all, right?

Admittedly, I haven't used the new function yet, but as it rolls out in the next few weeks it'll be interesting to see what it is useful for. I'm not a heavy Facebook user though, so data sifting on my friends isn't something I'm likely to do, but I imagine in the coming months it will develop it's own usefulness for Facebook subscribers. All 1.1 billion of them.

And while instantly finding out which of your friends are currently living in a city you plan to visit is certainly helpful, there is a bigger issue at stake here of whether you want your friends to be able to include you in a 'research pool.' I see new privacy debates arising as this rolls out.

privacy internet
Graph Search is likely to make Facebook users think twice about what they share and with who. Again. / © Sean MacEntee@flickr.com, Licenza CC BY 2.0

As Marshall McLuhan said: “Publication is a self-invasion of privacy,'' so we can't really be bothered too much by the ability to search our information when we're posting the results ourselves. But I might start rethinking what I share, and who I decide to be friends with, if some of my more vague connections on Facebook start trying to sell me stuff.

While I'm happy sharing casual information with my friends it makes me slightly uncomfortable to think of them running stats on me like I was a demographic. Perhaps Facebook wants to make users more comfortable with the kinds of data mining they already perform on us, to make us feel more like the demographic we already are to them.

Or maybe they just want access to the kinds of data mining we will run on each other so they know even more about how friends view friends on Facebook. I'm sure they won't use that information for creepy ends. Clever Facebook, real clever. But still creepy.

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Comments

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  • Philipp Junghannß (My1) Jul 8, 2013 Link

    you seem to have messed up your link in 3rd line...

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    Kris Carlon Jul 8, 2013 Link

    Thanks Philipp, all sorted. Cheers!

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  • Paul Taylor Jul 8, 2013 Link

    I never understand all this hoo-ha about privace on Facebook. I mean sure, if I mark stuff as private and Facebook go and publish it to all and sundry, that would be a major privacy gaffe. But if I post stuff as public on my timeline, and after a few weeks it disappears and everyone forgets about it, it's hardly an invasion of my privacy for people to be able to bring it back onto their screens. If people don't want stuff known, then they shouldn't post it. Case in point - who, of my friends, recently separated? The query is only going to return folk that went from married to not-married, something that they chose to update and make visible.

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    Kris Carlon Jul 8, 2013 Link

    I know what you're saying about public information Paul, but did you read the post last week about Facebook's app collecting user phone numbers before they even log in? Cell phones from Verizon have this app pre-installed so users who didn't even download the app have their phone number sent to Facebook without their permission. Definitely the major gaff you mention! Facebook's response was much like Google's when they got caught mapping physical addresses to ISP addresses via Street View a while back: oops, just an accident.

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  • mithun s Jul 8, 2013 Link

    I think privacy is a relative term to average facebook user. It varies how people think of thier content. I dont think its nice to access my content by someone altogether from a strange place that I dont even know it exists on a map. Even if its public content. But that is main selling point for facebook and also to the user maybe. Graph search has its uses but it is still intrusive in its own sense. I also think it is closely associated with those annoying suggested posts that come in between your feed.

    Speaking of facebook mobile app, I was using it before on my android phone and I was happy with it. But one day I was having this conversation about health with a friend specifically diabetic issues. After that I see all ads about diabeties mainly in suggested posts. Now, thats really creepy isn't it ?! I uninstalled the app and also its beautifully annoying messenger :) not only because of privacy issue but also because its taking too much RAM that was not the case before.

    I am happy using facebook from my browser now. :)

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  • Philipp Junghannß (My1) Jul 9, 2013 Link

    can you put your spam somewhere else?

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  • Erwin Ackerman Aug 21, 2013 Link

    I think the main reason people post on facebook is for attention, and to share their (so called woderful lives) with the entire world, so why do they complain when someone takes notice. Isn't that what they realy wanted anyway,
    what do they expect when they share on a social site

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