Reach for your privacy settings: Facebook graph search goes public

New search function answers queries using the habits and likes of friends and strangers

Facebook is making its ‘Graph Search’ public today in an attempt to mine the wealth of data produced by users, utilising everything from places you've visited to your likes and photos.

The product has been in beta for more than six months, but will now be rolled out to users with the “US English” language setting after “tens of millions of people have helped improve the product just by using it and giving feedback."

Graph Search works by answering users’ queries using the information people have voluntarily shared via their Facebook account. Everything from the restaurants you’ve liked to your current relationship status can be used to answer searches.

Facebook have always denied that Graph Search would be a rival to Google, and CEO Mark Zuckerberg has been keen to talk up the differences: “Web search is designed to take any open-ended query and give you links that might have answers. Graph Search is designed to take a precise query and give you an answer, rather than links that might provide an answer.”

Facebook is hoping that you’ll use this information in a number of appropriate, brand-responsible ways. If you’re taking a trip abroad for example then you might search for “Bars in New York liked by my friends”; or if you’re looking for someone to go a gig with you might ask Graph Search for “Friends of mine who like The Rolling Stones”.  

Of course, the algorithms that run the search are pretty open, and the actual queries that you can get ‘successful’ results for are far more varied then the above examples suggest.

Following the beta release of Graph Search in January this year, the single-serving Tumblr Actual Facebook Graph Searches did a fantastic job of flagging up some of the new service’s more bizarre and creepy possibilities. Want to find ‘Married people who like Prostitutes’? Not a problem. Looking for ‘Single women who live nearby and are interested in men and like Getting Drunk’? No worries - here’s a list of their names and pictures.

Facebook is doing its best to tackle these privacy issues head on (see below for their official video guide), but once they overcome the ignorance of the average user there's still the biggest challenge to individuals' privacy: Facebook itself.

Even in the guide below we're reminded that the default settings are generally stacked against the user, and it takes vigilance to keep on top of things. As talking head Julia says: "Remember, hidden photos still appear elsewhere on Facebook, such as on friends' timelines or in search."

Life and Style
love + sex
Life and Style
Tikka Masala has been overtaken by Jalfrezi as the nation's most popular curry
food + drink
News
people
Voices
A propaganda video shows Isis forces near Tikrit
voicesAdam Walker: The Koran has violent passages, but it also has others that explicitly tells us how to interpret them
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebooks
ebookPart of The Independent’s new eBook series The Great Composers
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Gadgets & Tech

    Recruitment Genius: ASP.NET Developer / Programmer - SQL, MVC, C#

    £35000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This distributor and wholesaler...

    Ashdown Group: HR Advisor - Bedfordshire - £30,000 + Excellent package

    £28000 - £30000 per annum + Bonus, Pension, 25days hol, PHC +: Ashdown Group: ...

    Recruitment Genius: Bookkeeper / Credit Controller

    £20000 - £24000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The successful candidate will h...

    SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

    £18000 - £23000 per annum + OTE: SThree: SThree are a global FTSE 250 business...

    Day In a Page

    Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

    Climate change key in Syrian conflict

    And it will trigger more war in future
    How I outwitted the Gestapo

    How I outwitted the Gestapo

    My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
    The nation's favourite animal revealed

    The nation's favourite animal revealed

    Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies
    Is this the way to get young people to vote?

    Getting young people to vote

    From #VOTESELFISH to Bite the Ballot
    Poldark star Heida Reed: 'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'

    Poldark star Heida Reed

    'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'
    The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

    The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

    Netanyahu knows he can get away with anything in America, says Robert Fisk
    Families clubbing together to build their own affordable accommodation

    Do It Yourself approach to securing a new house

    Community land trusts marking a new trend for taking the initiative away from developers
    Head of WWF UK: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

    David Nussbaum: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

    The head of WWF UK remains sanguine despite the Government’s failure to live up to its pledges on the environment
    Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

    Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

    Set in a mythologised 5th-century Britain, ‘The Buried Giant’ is a strange beast
    With money, corruption and drugs, this monk fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’

    Money, corruption and drugs

    The monk who fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’
    America's first slavery museum established at Django Unchained plantation - 150 years after slavery outlawed

    150 years after it was outlawed...

    ... America's first slavery museum is established in Louisiana
    Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

    Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

    The first 'American Idol' winner on how she manages to remain her own woman – Jane Austen fascination and all
    Tony Oursler on exploring our uneasy relationship with technology with his new show

    You won't believe your eyes

    Tony Oursler's new show explores our uneasy relationship with technology. He's one of a growing number of artists with that preoccupation
    Ian Herbert: Peter Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

    Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

    The England coach leaves players to find solutions - which makes you wonder where he adds value, says Ian Herbert
    War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

    The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

    Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn