Facebook Graph Search: How to protect your privacy and manage content issues

Do not be alarmed when you hear about the new Facebook Graph Search feature. Today Graph Search is available in a very limited beta release. When you see reports in the news about Graph Search, look for comparisons with Google to appreciate the similarities. Like Google, you will be able to type a search to locate friends and information within, but unlike Google, the searched content is that which exists within your Facebook community.

Anyone experiencing family law issues and divorce litigation, especially involving children, take note.

Because the searchable data is limited to my community of friends, I will only locate my friends and the content they chose to share with me. If my brother’s birthday party album is shared among his close friends only, then only his close friends are going to see the pictures from his party. Now, if I do not like the angle of some of the pictures, my exposure only goes so far as my brother’s close friends lists. Do I trust my brother to limit his close friends list to protect my privacy issues? In the event I am cautious and see a picture I [i]do not like, I can ask my brother to untag me, or I can untag myself.

It is always a good idea to review your Facebook privacy settings on a quarterly basis to keep up with changes to the site and potential security issues. You will also notice that the default setting for status updates is public. If you want your news to be anything other than public, you should select another set of people, such as friends only, who can view the post.

I do not have the Graph Search feature yet, but when I do, I will start searching my own page to locate content I want to highlight or delete. Haven’t we said something in the heat of a debate we might like to take back? Before Graph Search, we would manually scroll back through our timelines, and likely few people have the time, and never sanitized past posts. With the search feature in place, we should be able to quickly retrieve information using keywords – and delete the unsavory comments about rival sports fans and politicians.

Graph Search might be intended for good but beware of nefarious searchers.

The coin flips both ways with Graph Search, and content we never intended for the boss or a rival candidate in a local election, could be easily unearthed, much to our chagrin. You never know if the boss loves the other team you slammed in last year’s playoffs. Will more employers ask to be friends on Facebook for search reasons? It is possible. Will employers be allowed to demand access to search, likely not? The Illinois legislature passed a law[ii] and lawmakers in other states are working on bills that would prohibit employers from seeking job applicants’ social network passwords.

My plan: When I get the chance to try Facebook Graph Search, I will research and sanitize my timeline and publishing history. Keeping mind of public and friends only posts moving forward, I will be mindful of who can search and find what information and data about me. I welcome responsible use of Graph Search – its appearance I think was inevitable.

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