Can Facebook Graph Search Be A Bigger Than Ever Privacy Concern?

So you have a bunch of friends on Facebook and they know everything about you right? Most likely not. Sure you have some data out there being shared with them, but how many times is someone going to put two and two together to determine if you live in Palo Alto California AND you love puppies? Maybe some, but with Graph search, Facebook’s new announced product, they are going to find out much quicker.

Where you see smoke there is fire

This seems innocent at first but what if you accidentally change something from private to public and a minute later change it back. Too late, with the number of queries due to be happening at any given moment everyone who remotely knows you can suddenly see that leaked info in queries they did at the time. Heck, you will surely have bots that are going to work their way into networks and do queries that will pull that data onto the web. Next thing you know, you are on the front cover of some website selling pills. This is just another step of harvesting personal data to then build profiles of you. This isn’t an alarmist point of view, this is just reality. Graph search is Facebook’s way of taking data and building information. Making associations that you may not want shared with others… even your closest friends.

Painting a more detailed picture

Let’s say for a moment I would like to know more about my friend John. Using the new Graph Search I could build in ways to make connections about him. Where he lives to the places he likes to eat, to friends he may know to what he watches at the movies. Sure these pieces of info could be gathered by browsing through his profile of shared items, but now with graph search I can pull this info together much more quickly to build a more complete profile of this person. Using this information I could then, over time, build a better profile of who John is and target him directly with more content… or better yet, sell that info to someone else. I think we will see this type of data collection and data mining much more heavy now on Facebook than in the past.

Are you going to be able to get out in time?

You don’t want everyone to know everything about you. You made a simple mistake and put out a quick piece of information about where you live. Suddenly it is being associated with other facets of your life and a profile is being built about you. Another problem is that if you have been on Facebook, it is already going to be part of this graph search and your data is being thrown against other data to create your digital fingerprint. I think it is too late for most Facebookers to get out of this run away machine that will not only see your data but now is building knowledge about you as a person to feed to whoever.

I for one am lucky that I never put my info out there. Now let’s just hope Facebook doesn’t go too far down this road and link details between two friends that don’t know each other but where I am somehow associated with. Then using that info to find out more about me, even though I am not on Facebook. Then that would be like a virus which has leaped from one species to another. Then we will all be cataloged and our lives will be an open book.

Thanks for reading! 🙂

About The Author

Martyr2 is the founder of the Coders Lexicon and author of the new ebooks "The Programmers Idea Book" and "Diagnosing the Problem" . He has been a programmer for over 20 years. He works for a hot application development company in Vancouver Canada which service some of the biggest tech companies in the world. He has won numerous awards for his mentoring in software development and contributes regularly to several communities around the web. He is an expert in numerous languages including .NET, PHP, C/C++, Java and more.