Facebook Inc. (NASDAQ:FB) was pleased, and almost giddy, when it announced the gradual rollout of its Graph Search feature, which many think will evolve into a full-fledged Internet search engine to compete with Google Inc. (NASDAQ:GOOG) and Bing by Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT). As it is currently designed, Facebook users can conduct searches within Facebook to locate friends, photos and posts that are relevant to the search query.
While many posts and photos are public or at least can be seen by friends, there are secutiry experts who are speaking out against Graph Search, warning Facebook Inc. (NASDAQ:FB) that if they don’t re-set their privacy settings, there might be too much information available for searching – and a user’s profile may come up in an undesirable or potentially harmful way in terms of reputation.
While users of Facebook Inc. (NASDAQ:FB) can use Graph Search to get personalized results to queries like “Itaian restaurants in Dallas that my friends like,” there are other search queries that may lead to potential embarrassment or make some users targets. Not only are profiles scanned for search results, posts, videos and even “likes” can be highlighted and used to gather results. And to some security experts, it could be those “likes” that might make some users susceptible.
One such expert used some example search results like “married people who like prostitutes,” or “current employers of people who like racism.” Yes, even “likes” won’t be so anonymous to Graph Search, once it is fully implemented. There are also are openings where certain government entities in foreign countries could use the search to find dissidents, as another example.
Does Graph Search change the relationship between Facebook and its users with this new feature?