Facebook Graph Search Opens Door For Privacy Issues, Marketers, Stalkers and Creeps

Facebook may not be gunning directly at Google's Web search with the new Graph Search, but it's still a unique and fascinating new search paradigm -- particularly now that the company has over one billion individuals to pull data from. Graph Search promises to bring users closer to "friends" -- many of which have thousands of connections that they don't know very well -- by being able to parse though things that people like, and places that people live. Of course, Facebook addressed privacy concerns head-on during Graph Search's launch, but obviously, questions remain.

The EFF notes that Graph Search "presents the problem of discoverability." It says: "One can have a good balance of privacy and openness if information is available, but not easily discoverable. You might not mind if people specifically interested in you look at your Likes, but you may not want to have a market researcher pull the list and add it to an ad targeting profile. You might be okay if a new person you met at a conference looks you up on Facebook, but you may not want a creepy guy searching through Facebook's loose networks to find someone to stalk. All of a sudden, what people once thought was shared only to their Facebook audience—whether friends, friends of friends, or member of the public with a specific reason to look you up—is now readily available via Graph Search. This feature has rolled everyone, by default, into a dating service ("Single females in San Francisco who like Radiohead") and a marketing database ("People under 25 who like Coca-Cola")."

Naturally, this may come as a shock and as a surprise to many people. But in reality, it's just another wake-up call to actually monitor one's privacy settings on Facebook. If you haven't checked your own in a while, now might be a good time to give it all a look.