I got featured in the Facebook keynote today for the search term, "single male in SF from India." Thanks for looking out for me,Facebook! :)
Vikas Vadlapatla is single. He specifies this on his public Facebook page. Nonetheless, he was surprised to see his name pop up during Facebook’s Graph Search demo, when Facebook’s Tom Stocky searched for single Indian men in San Francisco.
This, Facebook says, is how it will take on sites like OKCupid and Match. (It made similar claims about LinkedIn.)
It’s also the next way Facebook will creep you out.
Valdapata obviously took this in stride, but the fact remains that Graph Search, as it was described today, will surprise a lot of people. And people dont like to be surprised by companies that possess as much private information as Facebook does.
Mark Zuckerberg stressed repeatedly that Graph Search won’t surface any information that isn’t technically already public, according to Facebook’s privacy settings. But what it will do is make information much more accessible — to a point that will make some people uncomfortable. To see Vikas’s relationship status today, you would have to first go to his page, then click his “About” tab. In other words, you would need to be specifically seeking information about him. That’s not only the context in which such information can be found; it’s the context which Vikas expected it to be available when he decided to post it.
With Graph Search, information that used to exist within a user’s page now exists outside it, in any number of search queries. It’s no less “private,” to use the very strict, Facebookian definition of the world. But it’s far more accessible, and much more visible. The information’s place in the world, the way in which people can find it, has changed. Making data searchable fundamentally changes what kind of data it is.
Google and Bing honor “nofollow” and “noindex” tags on sites, which site operators can place on pages they don’t want to be discoverable in search engines. Facebook offers no such option, as of now. To keep information out of Graph Search, you’ll basically need to make it totally private, or remove it entirely. Your Graph Search privacy settings are not distinct from your regular Facebook privacy settings:
Facebook users understand there’s a big difference between answering people who ask if you’re single and broadcasting the fact to everyone you now. And so does Facebook. Graph Search willfully ignores the distinction, because that’s what makes it effective — and what makes it, and the things it will find, feel new.
But it’s also going to force some users to once again question how much information they’ve posted on the site. (And to Instagram, photos and location data from which Facebook says will eventually be added to the search index.) Given that Graph Search depends on users posting lots and lots of information, this could become a problem.
Thanks to Carl Franzen for initially retweeting Vikas.
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- Sam Q added We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together to the mix about 4 months ago
- jaredk3 added U Can't Touch This to the mix about 4 months ago
- whattafeeling thinks Why Facebook's New Search Is Goin... is Fail
Hey FACEBOOK! Yeah, you! Remember back when you were younger, and only college students were hooked up with you, and you had an aire of exclusivity? When grandpa and aunt Mabel that barely know how to run a computer didn’t have a profile? THAT’S when you were cool. Since about 2010, you’ve sucked. I imagine the .edu email also cut down on fake janky profiles. Just sayin.
- alberte2 added Dave Grohl to the mix about 4 months ago
- kkh10 Why Facebook's New Search Is Goin... and thinks it’s WTF
- CandaceCocoa thinks Why Facebook's New Search Is Goin... is OMG
- devinw4 thinks Why Facebook's New Search Is Goin... is Cute
- ibeawicked1 thinks Why Facebook's New Search Is Goin... is WTF
I used to like facebook and used it all the time back in 2006-2009 but since then it’s become, well, pointless beyond seeing more distant friends having babies and holidays. All of which is nice but for most people I just follow their blogs or check out their twitter feeds or, god forbid, actually write them an email or give them a call. As people say, Facebook is only as essential as you choose to make it in your life.
- kylew18 thinks Why Facebook's New Search Is Goin... is Fail
I hate facebook. I’m barely on it. It’s more like a chore than anything. And I hate how at my university I hear day after day from my professors “you have to have a web presence. you have to be social media savvy. make a LinkedIn profile, blah blah blah…..” Why do they make it seem like you won’t get anywhere in life unless your info, resume, etc is plastered all over the web and you’re constantly networking? So exhausting…
I don’t see what the problem is, my privacy settings are strict to friends only, not friends of friends, not public. Just friends. Company page is open. Why would this be a concern to anyone who keeps their information private, and if you don’t keep your information to friends only and don’t have only personal friends on your list… Then whose fault is that? No one is going to protest this, because people will act like they hate it and eventually not care, ‘baaah’.