When Facebook introduced its new search engine this month, it gave plenty of assurances that the new engine is very dedicated to privacy. However, some prank searches that were done by some beta testers have indicated that the new engine could still be revealing too much information.
The search engine is made to search Facebook for very specific information, such as which of your friends like a certain Italian restaurant, or single people from Russia in your neighborhood.
At this time, Graph Search is still in beta form, and it is limited to just searches of people, likes, places, photos and interests. However, posts and status messages could become searchable at some point.
Mark Zuckerberg, who has seriously upgraded Facebook hardware to power the new search, has said that the new search tool will only be able to process data that was given by permission by users to be searchable.
In a demonstration of the system this month, Zuckerberg and his team did searches for ‘friends who like Star Wars and Harry Potter,’ and ‘Languages my friends speak.’
However, some people who were allowed to test the beta version were able to use Graph Search for much, much more.
A computer programmer named Tom Scott revealed on his blog this week some of the odd searches he did with Graph Search. And some of his results were pretty controversial.
For instance, Scott discovered that Graph Search can find ‘married people who like prostitutes,’ and ‘spouses of married people who like Ashley Madison,’ which is a dating website for people who are in a relationship. He also found ‘Islamic men interested in men in Iran.’
Scott noted that while the search does not violate Facebook’s privacy rules, all users should know that the new search engine has serious capabilities. They may want to think about the information that they make public on the Internet.
The new Graph Search could be a great thing, but there are many concerns with it, and not just privacy. Some companies are also nervous that the new engine could crush their businesses. We will see what happens when the final version is released later this year.