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Facebook Updates Graph Search

Hide Your Children, Hide Your Statuses

There was a time when the humiliating mistakes of your youth, or even of last night, could be safely consigned to history; when you could rely on the slow fade of memory to erase the worst of your youthful exuberance.

The advent of social media put paid to all that: every photo, every foolish utterance, will float around the internet for as long as you live – and for long after. Even then, you could sleep a little easy in the knowledge that with 350 million new photos uploaded to Facebook every day the record of that one Halloween you decided to dress up as Dora the Explorer will eventually be buried under the sheer volume of content.

Facebook is trying to help those looking for humiliating pictures to bust out at your wedding, however, with their new and improved Graph Search. The Graph Search was introduced in 2013 as a more ‘search engine’ like search function within Facebook, allowing users to enter queries in more natural language and receive results relying not just on keywords but based on the user’s own activity and friends. Users can search for likes, check-ins, and personal information among friends (dependent on privacy settings), as well as on the web itself.

Naturally, the service also acts as a source of revenue for Facebook. Companies can pay for ‘Targeted Entities’ on the site, so that their business’ pages appear when users search for that entity.
The feature has already faced some criticism for its ability to uncover potentially compromising information, such as allowing companies to easily discover employees who have liked pages related to racism or governments to uncover incriminating behaviour like Chinese citizens who like the banned group Falun Gong.

Now there is even more potential for embarrassment with Facebook’s expansion of the service. Facebook is now updating Graph Search so that it can trawl through individual posts as well as users’ profile information, allowing individual postings to be searched for with greater accuracy.

The tool allows mobile users to search for certain keywords – ‘World Cup’ or ‘cupcakes’ – to dig up posts which their friends have made about those topics in the past. The idea is help you track down that movie recommendation a friend posted on your wall last month, or the article your brother was raving about the other week.

Plus, of course, it’s another weapon in the marketers’ arsenal; the technology will allow the site to better track down those who are always talking about Italian food or cars, and pass that information along to advertisers.

So if you don’t want people to dig up those stag party posts from two years ago, or that rant about George Bush you posted after reading half a Slate article, get on those privacy settings sharpish.

Douglas is an English Literature graduate who has written about everything from music to food to theatre, now a content creator for Social Media Frontiers. No topic too large or too small. Follow him @DouglasAtSMF.

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Facebook Updates Graph Search Reviewed by Anonymous on Wednesday, September 03, 2014 Rating: 5
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