The new Facebook Graph Search makes it easier than ever to stalk your crush that you just met–and easier than ever for creeps to stalk you. (It’s not nearly as fun that way, we know!)
As if the news feed and timeline weren’t enough time sucks for everyone, the Facebook Graph Search lets you find friends and friends of friends by interest, location, or just about anything else you can think of. You can search, say, specifically for friends who love Ke$ha, or friends who happen to be Giants fans, or pals who really love Shakespeare, The Avengers, peppermint ice cream, or who live in a neighboring town or pretty much by anything else you can think of to identify someone.
This comes in handy if, say, you have an extra ticket to a Ke$ha concert or want to know which pals may go to a local theater production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream with you, but it’s also a little unnerving to know that strangers (as in, friends of friends you’ve never met) can use the same information to find you, right?
It’s not so bad in theory, but like every other change Facebook meets, the Facebook Graph Search can put stuff you thought you hid or deleted back where people can find it. It’s still in beta right now, which means most of us won’t have it for a while. But here are a few guidelines for dealing with it if you like to maintain as much online privacy as you can without totally disconnecting yourself. (Obviously, the best way to keep yourself from being lurked in the new Facebook Graph Search is to just keep your business off of Facebook altogether–but let’s be real, that’s probably not going to happen, is it?)
First, go to your Facebook profile. See the lock icon? Click on that. Scroll down to “Who can look up your timeline by name.” Once you’re there, click the option that says “Friends,” then close it. That’ll clear most of the stuff you may be worried about from showing up in strangers’ databases (which is basically what Mark Zuckerberg called Facebook as a whole).
Want to take some more measures? The next part is time consuming but effective: You can basically go through your entire timeline and mark individual things to hide from the public or from friends of friends so they won’t show up in the Facebook Graph Search. But if you post things daily, that takes a really, really long time.
Are you going to use the Facebook Graph Search feature? Do Facebook privacy issues freak you out? Tell us in the comments!