Facebook Attempts To Ease Privacy Concerns Over Graph Search

By David Cohen 

Facebook’s recently introduced graph search feature rekindled a host of familiar privacy concerns, and the social network used a post in its Newsroom to remind users about privacy settings and options that are available to them.

The post offered answers to frequently asked questions, such as how to control information that shows up in graph search, how to determine who sees likes, whether users can see information about other users’ friends, and how to control access to photos.

Links are also provided to more detailed pages How Privacy Works with Graph Search and Graph Search Privacy.

Facebook said in the introduction to the post:

Before graph search began rolling out, we highlighted a set of upgraded privacy tools on Facebook encouraging people to review what they’ve shared. The upgraded privacy tools, and the reminder to use them, are part of an ongoing effort to encourage people to make choices that are right for them.

Privacy works consistently across Facebook, not just on graph search. When you control who you share your information with, you determine who it’s shared with across Facebook — including news feed, timeline, and in graph search.

Following is the part of the social network’s refresher course that appears in the FAQ section:

How do I control what information shows up about me in graph search? You control the audience of information you share on Facebook. For each piece of content you own, you can choose whether that information is shared with public, friends, only me, custom, or specific lists of people.

Graph search is aware of these privacy settings. Go to your activity log to review and control who can see what you share on Facebook.

How do I control the audience of my likes? You control who you share your interests and likes with on Facebook. To do this, go to your timeline and click the “likes” box at the top. Each category of interests and likes has its own privacy setting.

If, for example, you choose to only let your friends see your interests, then your friends are the only people who will see that you like those interests anywhere on Facebook: in news feed, on your timeline, and in graph search.

For pages that are not part of a category, you can see and change the privacy of these likes under the “Other Pages You Like” section.

Can people see things about my friends through graph search? You can choose who can see your friend and family lists across Facebook, on your timeline, in news feed, and graph search.

Just as you control who can see your friend lists, your friends control who can see their friends lists. Someone might be able to tell that you’re friends with another person — and search based on that friendship — if they can see your friendship on the other person’s timeline. So if you’re concerned about people searching for info about your friends, you can ask your friends to limit who can see their friends list, as well.

Some people have asked us why search works this way. The reason is that we want people to be clear on who can see info about them not only in graph search, but elsewhere on Facebook — such as on timeline or in news feed. Privacy controls work consistently across Facebook.

How do I view and control what photos of me are on Facebook? Last year, we launched improved privacy tools that let people see what they’ve shared, to see what photos have been tagged of them, and to be able to take action if there’s something they don’t like. In activity log, you can now review all posts and things you’re tagged in. For example, with photos, you can see all photos you’ve been tagged in.

You can then untag yourself from any of those photos, or, if you didn’t post it, send a message to the owner of the photo asking them to take it down from Facebook.

Readers: Is Facebook doing enough to reassure users that their privacy and security will not be compromised as graph search continues to be rolled out?