Facebook Graph Search: Good for reporters, bad for personal privacy

Got my invite to Facebook Graph Search a few weeks ago.

The relatively new feature, currently in beta, works as a search engine within Facebook allowing you to find detailed information on your friends and several strangers with public accessible profiles. To be honest, the information you can dig up is simultaneously exciting as a journalist and a wee bit frightening as a person who values a certain measure of privacy. (I know, it’s a double-standard).

How it works:

Allows you to look for targeted information using nearly any parameters. Here’s a few I keyed in just for example purposes, “People who like Queen’s Park and Stephen Harper.”


“Toronto residents who like guns and Taylor Swift.”



Here’s a good explanation of how the new search differs from the old Facebook search from The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists.

“Contrary to the old Facebook Search — a mediocre, sluggish search engine — Facebook Graph Search allows you to combine more than 100+ personal details about friends and strangers. I’m still counting.Using Graph Search, we can pinpoint people who meet certain criteria or who have certain interests, as well as certain connections.”

Here’s another example. I searched for “People who work for (Toronto mayor) Rob Ford who follow (liberal-leaning councillor) Adam Vaughan.


** A reminder to journalists that some people do create fake Facebook profiles and provide false information in them. You still need to confirm what you find in the search.

This tool will help journalists unearth information and establish connections that I’m sure Facebook users thought would never be possible to find. The search tool acts as a database of the all the information users have published. The tool enables you to look up anything shared with you on Facebook, “and others can find stuff you’ve shared with them, including content set to public. That means different people see different results.” (from Facebook search page)

It may be a wake-up call to some Facebook users to go through the pages they like and update/edit their profiles.

Check out this video from The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists to see Facebook search in action.


Here’s more information about privacy on Facebook Graph Search: https://www.facebook.com/about/graphsearch/privacy

Facebook is slowly rolling out this feature to users in North America. You must add your name to a wait list if you want to check it out.


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