3 Ways to Defend Privacy From Facebook’s Graph Search

Hardly a month seems to pass that Facebook doesn’t scare the wits out of privacy advocates, and Mark Zuckerberg’s social networking behemoth may have just created its biggest flap yet with the introduction of its newest tool, Graph Search.

Graph Search combines the far-reaching functionality of a search engine with the personal touch of social media, producing search results that are specifically geared toward the preferences of users because they are culled from the public information that their Facebook friends share. Want a book recommendation? Search what your friends are reading. Want to explore contemporary socio-political ideology? Search what your friends are into. Facebook likes to point out that as a result, everyone’s search results will be unique.

Privacy changes on Facebook are a common occurrence, and privacy advocates fear that this is just the latest and greatest intrusion into the unwanted sharing of personal information on Facebook, but the company insists that only the information users have chosen to make public can surface in search results.

Ultimately, Graph Search will make everything you share with the public and with friends a whole lot easier for people to find.

Graph Search is still in Beta, but now is the time for users to comb through their Facebook profiles and make sure they are sharing only what they are comfortable with showing to the whole world. Facebook privacy doesn’t have to be an oxymoron.

Here are four tips to follow to make sure you don’t overshare through Graph Search:

  1. Secure Your Public Information: You need to know what’s public on your profile, so go to ‘Who can see my stuff?’ and click ‘View As.’ There you’ll see all of the information, photos and posts that are available to the public. Change the individual setting of any piece of information that you don’t want to share with all of Facebook, which at this point is pretty much the whole world. Do this for your general information too by going to your profile page and clicking on ‘Update Info’ and changing the settings for each piece of information there as well.
  2. Make Friend Lists: This is the hardest step, so get it out of the way. Facebook lets you categorize your friends, giving each list different access to your information, a la Circles on Google +, so if you haven’t already, do this and be sure you specify the permissions for each list of friends you create. Doublecheck how this works by going to the lock icon — the security section — in the top right corner, clicking on ‘Who can see my stuff?’ and then clicking ‘What do other people see on my Timeline?’
  3. Edit Photos, Likes and Posts: Because Graph Search searches your photos, likes and posts, go through all of these and specify who you do and don’t want to share each item with. You can also specify who you share your future posts with.
  4. Wash, Rinse, Repeat: Stay on top of your privacy by frequently repeating the above steps.
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