Facebook Graph Search – What It Means to Your Privacy

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In January, Facebook unveiled Graph Search, a new search tool that leverages information from your friends’ interests, likes, check-ins and photos, ultimately allowing you to discover new places and things. You can also use Graph Search to review all the photos you’ve been tagged in since joining Facebook. This can be helpful in having more control over your photos, and ultimately creating a more private Facebook experience.

Though it’s not publicly available yet, Facebook is pushing Graph Search as the culmination of search. It could replace searching LinkedIn for professional connections, eHarmony for dates and Yelp for restaurants, all while giving you quality information backed by your Facebook friends. On the surface, this idea seems like the next logical step in search, however, you might think twice about what you post, what you like and how you use privacy settings once you realize how invasive Graph Search can be.

Below are some pretty interesting examples of actual Graph Search results, courtesy of the “Actual Graph Search Results” Tumblr blog.

Married people who like Prostitutes


Mothers of Jews who like Bacon


Current employers of people who like Racism

One of the things that Graph Search does is make a lot of your old Facebook content and interests (photos, posts, tags, likes, etc) easily available to the public. Many Facebook users have had accounts for a long time, before the revamped News Feed and before Timeline rolled out, and for these users (and the millions of very active late adopters) Graph Search could resurface a lot of that old content—some of which you might not want resurfacing in the first place.

Removing your Likes

When it comes out of beta, you won’t be able to opt out of Graph Search, but you can use visibility settings to give you some control over how often you appear in Graph search results. A good starting point is on your Likes page. Like with anything you post to Facebook, you can set visibility settings on the things you like so that only you, or only you and your friends can see everything you’ve liked.

Do this by logging in clicking the Likes box on your profile. You’ll land on a page that looks like the screenshot below. Click the Edit button in the upper right hand corner.

fb favorites

Under each category, you will now see the drop-down menu that lets you determine who can see what. Click Done Editing to save your changes. 

fb favorites edit

Removing Tags from Photos

As mentioned before, Graph Search can be used to find old photos that you were tagged in. If you want to decrease your chances of coming up in results, you can use the tools available to you now to remove any photo tags that you don’t want.

From your Home screen, click the Photo tab on the left side (outlined in red in the screenshot below).

fb photos

You’ll be taken to a list of photos that were uploaded by you or that you’ve been tagged in. Click the pencil icon in the upper right hand corner of the image and go down to the “Report/Remove Tag” located at the bottom of the menu. From there you can remove tags from the individual image.

fb tag removal

Parents, keep in mind, Graph Search is still in beta, which means we all still have a lot to learn about the service. That being said, if you have any further insight into how it works and what the privacy implications may be, please share your comments below.

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