Facebook Social Graph: Your New Reason Not to Sleep at Night

Today’s guest post is written by longtime friend and colleague, Dr. Bill Smith, Director of Marketing and Branding at Northwestern State University in Louisiana. Bill and I share a common concern about privacy issues in social  media, especially as they relate to its responsible use by college student-athletes. If you’re not familiar with the disturbing potential of Facebook’s Graph Search to ruin a reputation and wreak havoc on the unknowing Facebook user, read on.

Putting the finishing touches on a media training/social media training for Northwestern State spring sport athletes tomorrow night, and I’ve added in courtesy of Tom Scott something new and frightening for everyone.

Facebook Social Graph.  Yea!Facebook search icon

Actually, not so much.  If you haven’t heard, Facebook is now going to provide everyone the keys to the digital kingdom, the ability to search anything within Facebook that was public, ESPECIALLY all those random “likes” you’ve made over the year.

All of them.

Just like the advertisers, you can use Big Data to find all kinds of specialty search groups and then stalk — I mean read about — them.

British comedian Tom Scott was one of the early betas on Graph Search, and he made a Tumblr blog of some of the accidentally funny (Italian mothers who like Durex condoms) and the dangerous (men who like men who live in Tehran, Iran). [Tweet this right here, right now]

I highly encourage taking a few minutes to read the whole thing, and consider where Tom makes fun with absurd things like married men who like prostitutes, what if the search was potential interns who like weed.  Or prescription drugs.

Or we added a little creepy geolocation like single women near by who like to get drunk.

As Tom said in his blog:

“If it’d be awkward if it was put on a screen in Times Square, don’t put it on Facebook. Oh, and check your privacy settings again.”

Related articles: 

Data Mining and Facebook Graph Search from the Chronicle of Higher Education

If you have any comments, concerns, or experience with Facebook Graph Search, please start the discussion below in the comments. We know, as media professionals, that the possibilities of search for marketing purposes is valuable. Our main concern here is with its exploitation of the unknowing.

2 Responses to “Facebook Social Graph: Your New Reason Not to Sleep at Night”

  1. Sheri February 20, 2013 at 1:25 am #

    I have had Graph Search since January and I have enjoyed playing with the new feature. Facebook Graph Search does bring a sense of urgency to clean up that profile. Whether you manually go through your entire Timeline history or use a service like “Fashwash,” users need to evaluate past photos they were tagged in, etc. Graph Search will not reveal any information you have made private, but “photos of you” will appear.

    Despite reevaluating your privacy settings, I think Graph Search has some interesting opportunities for higher education (or marketers in general.) Last month, I wrote a blog post about the things higher education and student affairs personnel can learn from their student body: Liz Gross also wrote a blog post about the type of searches personnel can use to get to know their audience: Hope both of these links are helpful to shed some positive light on Graph Search.

    • cksyme February 20, 2013 at 5:59 pm #

      Thanks for the additional resources, Sheri. It’s always good to hear what other people are doing.

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