What you like on Facebook matters more than you think

Facebook graph search uses language cues to populate search

Published On: Apr 19 2013 11:07:06 PM EDT   Updated On: Apr 19 2013 11:52:52 PM EDT

Facebook's new tool, graph search, is only available to a small number of users right now but eventually everyone on the social network will have access to the modified search tool. 

Last month, Local 6 explained how graph search could be used to locate anybody by simple search items like sex and the name of a high school.  Despite Facebook's claims that it outwardly protects minors from being susceptible to searches from people outside their network of friends, Local 6 was able to locate profiles of hundreds of local teenagers.

It turned out that those teenagers could have been lying about their ages online, making them older than the 17-year-old threshold that Facebook uses to for their inherit protection for minors. 

Now Facebook is efforting a national public relations campaign to explain the positive aspects of graph search.

In a satellite interview with Local 6 anchor Lauren Rowe, a Facebook product manager claimed that graph search was created with users privacy in mind.

"If I've only shared with a few people that I'm interested in soccer only those few people will see either in newsfeed or on timeline or on search," said Katie O'Neill. 

Local 6's social media producer Savannah Herring said that users have to figure out what they are sharing and what they aren't on their own to get ready for graph search.

"Everytime Facebook rolls out a new product, users have to consider how that affects their privacy," said Herring.

Herring demonstrated the social value of graph search by typing in key terms like "people who like politics in Orlando" and "restaurants my friends like nearby".

Instantly, Facebook populated with friends and places that fit those descriptions.

Since graph search is built using language tools, O'Neill says what users input about themselves in their locations, places of employment, and likes will populate graph search.

She said the company developed it because it was consistently a function that users requested from Facebook.

She would not give a timeline on how long it would be before graph search is available to everyone on Facebook or how many users currently have it.

Local 6 developed a web tutorial for updating privacy settings so users can prepare their profiles before graph search.  You can watch it by clicking here.