Graph Search: Facebook’s Third Pillar

I am a passive Facebook (FB) user.  I’m on it, but I don’t really have a presence.  In seven years I have:

  • posted exactly one picture to my wall
  • changed my profile picture three times
  • commented on or liked something < 30 times

Everything else on my FB page is because somebody tagged me or made a comment.  I often want to leave FB, but I participate in activities that only connect with participants through FB.

Enter FB’s latest development, Graph Search, which offers users a way to search for common interests among friends and strangers.  People are interconnected by their likes, friends, pages, and comments.  Graph Search allows users to search for these interconnected bits of information through the use of an interface designed to combine elements.

FB's Search

 

For example you can search for Friends who like:

  • a certain type of cuisine
  • a genre of music
  • a sport or hobby

So what does this mean for FB users?  For an active FB user, perhaps this could be a useful way to discover new interests or likes.  After all, we are often influenced by the opinion of our friends and peers.  FB can be a “go-to” resource to find out all kinds of useful things like peer-approved restaurants and music albums.

For users like me, who don’t really post anything, not much. Except that I need to revisit my privacy and account settings and figure out the implications of the new feature.  In general, I find FB’s settings confusing and inconsistent.  I recently checked my settings on what the public could see.  Here’s the screenshot:

FB Visibility Options

Huh?  So I can hide things on my timeline, but then they’ll appear in every other place on FB?  What’s the point?  And is this the kind of stuff that will be harvested and used by Graph Search?

 

 

On another note, users will need to be conscious of how Graph Search is working.  One user, Tom Scott, created a tumblr page entitled: Actual Facebook Graph Searches, where he mix and matches search elements such as “Married people who like Prostitutes” or “Current Employers of People who Like Racism.”

As of this moment, there is no way to opt out of the Graph Search.  Or at least I couldn’t find anything in the settings that disabled the Graph Search.  If you find something, let me know.  As a passive user, I don’t want my few “likes” being interconnected and search for in contexts that I can’t control.   Of course the easy answer is Get Off Facebook, but then how do I stay connected with my few groups that are only on FB?

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