Creepy Side of Search Emerges on Facebook

The Facebook has launched a new search engine called “Graph Search”. Instead of the traditional way of search engine to match terms (eg. temple university + economics department + economics major), Graph Search takes “natural-language” sentences (eg. my friends who are majoring in economics at temple university). The TechCrunch (http://techcrunch.com/2013/02/15/the-history-behind-facebooks-graph-search/) commented that Facebook is betting that by using personalized data, they can provide more relevant search results than can mechanisms such as Yelp reviews or Google Page Rank.

The question I want to ask is concerning the privacy of the Facebook users. For instance, I may not want to share with strangers where I have been or where I am currently at. And if someone searches for a restaurant that I am currently at or have checked in, it will be very unpleasant news to know that those strangers that I do not know can see that I have checked in at that restaurant when and with whom. The wired.com (http://www.wired.com/business/2013/02/creepy-graph-searchers/) on its article shares the CEO of the Facebook, Mark  Zuckerberg’s comment at the Graph Search launch event saying “in addition to building therese [privacy] tools, we need to get them in front of people so people actually see them before everyone in the world has Graph Search.” They also states in the article that “as Graph Search reaches more users, Facebook plans to deploy a tool that will show people examples of how their information might be exposed in Graph Search os that they can adjust their privacy settings.”

In my opinion, the Facebook can not become like Google, and vise versa, Google can not become like Facebook. Google is a pure search engine where you don’t have to be logged in to Google in order to search whatever you want. Yes, it does leave marks by using such as ip addresses, etc., but Facebook needs to be logged in. The start of these two companies is different. And the more Facebook wants to shift its gear toward search engine, the more privacy issues may be issued. What do Facebook do with the private raw data that they collect from thousands of their users? That we do not know, but shouldn’t you be worried? Also, shouldn’t you be worried that the one mistake of Facebook can reveal all of your informations to strangers?

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3 thoughts on “Creepy Side of Search Emerges on Facebook”

  1. Graph Search hmm? I think it’s pretty cool that it is called this because we learned that a graph in terms of networks, specifies relationships among a collection of items and consists of nodes and edges. So, to me it only makes sense that Facebook (FB) come up with an even more advanced strategy such as this to connect its users to each other in a much easier way that brings much more specified results. FB is basically one big graph, and Graph Search allows us to search for specifics of the individual nodes that are present.
    Also, when you say FB cannot become like Google, who’s to say they cannot? FB has already tried to incorporate functions from other information sharing sites (for example FB introduced the ‘Timeline’ which was what made Twitter appealing to users) and it obviously doesn’t seem to be stopping as we can see with the new Graph Search.

    In terms of Privacy, to be honest, even though we do indeed have rights as FB users and we are entitled to some notion of privacy, I believe that in reality, when you create your FB account and begin to post any sort or amount of information that privacy essentially goes out of the window. Firstly, the FB administrators have complete rights over your pictures, posts etc. So either way, what you share on FB is not private. I would say that if you don’t want people knowing where you are or what you’re doing then don’t share that information. But, what if you’re with a friend and they post up a picture of you both, you’re information and whereabouts is still out there. We can’t win.

    Also, FB has become notorious for its constant updates and changes, all of which have affected the privacy setting of your FB profile. Every time there is a major, noticeable change your Privacy Setting are affected and you have to constantly go back and edit them. However, even when you edit the settings, it is so easy for others to pass across a picture of you tagged by someone else, or a status/ picture you liked showing up on someone else’s Timeline. We are all so interconnected that the concept of privacy is going to become obsolete.

    Y.Osborne

  2. Privacy is a rapidly shifting concept in the digital sphere. You make the argument that google uses IP addresses and not real names, but these IP addresses can easily be tracked back to your real identity through your ISP by any entity with sufficient cause, which is usually the largest concern when it comes to privacy. I imagine facebook has learned a good amount from all the privacy outrages it has sparked and as such will tread lightly in this new endeavor. If the graph search only makes your preferences and activities explicitly available to friends, and more constricted/anonymously available to non-friends, than it is not much more of a development from the standard operating procedure in the site.

    Theoretically, this barely larger disclosure will allow much better recommendations through the power of aggregation of people with similar interests. This is one of the weakest aspects of search engines, novel recommendations that are actually appreciated and spot on. Whoever can develop a relatively successful formula will be much appreciated by the users.

    What I think would be a welcome addition is the ability to add users to groups and restrict the availability of your information to while maybe also being able to indicate you do not want to weigh there opinions so highly. This would help solve the problem about worrying what a family member/co-worker might see what you post on facebook while also telling the algorithm to discount the recommendations of people you’re friends with for reasons other than actually enjoying that persons company and interests (for example, most of the people you’re friends with on facebook). So far reliable recommendations still only come from good friends or trusted internet writers, real people. Whoever can use the power of the crowd to show people new things they enjoy will win over a substantial population. I think graph search can be a strong step in that direction as long as we are allowed some filter over the results and visibility.

    1. From my point of view “Graph Search” has a big potential considering the information that facebook is collecting and has collected so far. This seems to open the door to a total new search area making use of the information a social network provides. Existing search machines like Google are limited to a more general searching concept, which is based on key words and no social information. In general, it seems to be more seriously and more reliable, but think of the new accessible date that “Graph Search” provides. As long as users can chose where and when their information can be seen the “Graph Search” has a lot of potential and I am curious how people will respond to it.

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