Every time Facebook releases a new feature to learn more about our friends, many people realise that their privacy settings are not adequate anymore. Their latest new feature, Facebook Graph Search, is no exception – many people are a little concerned about what sorts of things will be found and by whom.
Thankfully, all it takes is a little understanding about how Facebook Graph Search works, then you can tweak your privacy settings accordingly. Today, we’ll go into a little detail about what exactly the Facebook Graph Search is and the sorts of things strangers may be able to find out about us. Then, we’ll make sure you have double-checked your privacy settings in anticipation of the full Graph Search roll-out.
What Is Facebook Graph Search?
Facebook Graph Search is a new way to search for information on Facebook, which uses natural language and finds results across a broad spectrum of things. For instance, Facebook suggests you might like to do a search for “People who like cycling and live in Seattle, Washington“. It’s also possible to do a similar search for “My Friends who like cycling and live in Seattle, Washington“. This would mean you could quickly find out which of your friends you should talk to in order to go cycling with them while you’re in Seattle.
As you can see, Facebook graph search takes information about people’s Location, Liked Pages, Other Likes, Places, Photos, Education, Work, Hometown, Timeline and more. Also, because all of this information is protected by a variety of privacy settings, searches performed by different people will yield different results. This is due to the privacy settings of friends and strangers for each individual part of their profile. Only things that were previously available to a given person will be viewable via the Search Graph, however they may find that information more readily now.
Which Privacy Settings Are Likely To Create The Most Trouble?
Since it’s now easier to find information in the sea of data in Facebook, strangers and friends alike will now be able to find out information about you more easily. I personally recommend that all users check their privacy settings for their current location, hometown and tagging for places, as these could very quickly lead a person to your current physical location.
The next most important thing to do is to review photos of yourself. On Facebook, there is also a little confusion with photo privacy. The privacy of any given photo is determined by the person who uploaded it. The privacy settings you set for photos you are tagged in will determine who else may see the photo, but they can’t stop someone who already could view the photo from seeing it.
For instance, if your cousin uploads photos of you and makes them visible to all of their Facebook friends, all of those Facebook friends will be able to see the photo despite your privacy settings. Even if you have set your privacy to ensure your grandparents can’t see photos you are tagged in, they will still be able to see your cousin’s photos if your cousin is friends with them on Facebook.
You can remove the tag, although it will do little to help you in this circumstance. The best thing to do would be to ask your friends to set stricter privacy settings on the photos you appear in or to remove the photos altogether.
Also important are the settings for your work and education, previous posts and activity. Check your activity log to see what is viewable and make changes as you like (go to https://www.facebook.com/YOUR-PROFILE/allactivity ).
Review your Likes and remove or change the settings for anything that you don’t want people to see. Pages you have liked were changed to public by default a while back, but they can now be made less public. So, it’s vital that you change the privacy settings or Unlike anything that you’d prefer to stay private. Since many people have been Liking activities, TV shows, movies and music since long before they all went public, this is important.
To edit your settings for Likes, go to your timeline and click on “Likes“, then “Edit“. Each category of Likes has a different privacy setting, so you can fine-tune it as you wish. Ensure you remember to click on “Done Editing” when you are finished in order to save your settings.
Also note that minors have certain settings locked to a maximum exposure of friends or friends of friends (who are also minors). To read more about privacy for minors, see this page.
How Do I Fix & Check My Privacy Settings?
Facebook has a new privacy navigation menu, which is accessible via the little padlock icon in the top-right of any page on Facebook. The menu makes it easy to check your privacy settings, to access the activity log and to access the full privacy menu. This also allows you to quickly view your timeline as another person to verify what they can see.
As you saw above for the privacy settings of “Likes“, it is now possible to edit the settings of many other items on your Timeline in the same way. It’s worth checking each section of your Timeline and ensuring things are as private as you expect, particularly the “About” section and the “Friends” section.
What Else Should I Know?
Facebook have written their own guide to Facebook Privacy and the Graph Search and it is well worth taking a look. In particular, it will demonstrate the sorts of photos which can be found via Graph Search that are not viewable on your timeline. These are the ones you should be reviewing and discussing with the person who uploaded them.
Have you checked your privacy settings for Facebook Graph Search yet? Were you surprised to find some things were more public than you had hoped?