In the run up to the public roll out of Facebook’s new Graph Search, the social network is making an effort to let you know that its new product won’t chip away at your privacy. But all the problems you currently have with controlling what you share will still exist. Good to know.
The company has been rolling out a number of redesigned privacy options recently to make it easier to understand what you’re sharing with whom. In a short video, blog post and dedicated Graph Search privacy page, Facebook addressed users’ concerns and reiterated that your existing privacy settings still stand, even when using Graph Search. For example, if you’ve hidden your relationship status or languages from everyone except your friends, random strangers searching for “single people near me who speak French” won’t see your profile in their results.
It also suggested that users review individual settings for options like the photos they’ve been tagged in — because even though a photo may be hidden from your Timeline, it can still be found in search. Because Graph Search makes all the information that was previously just sitting in some forgotten tab on your profile actively searchable, there are a lot of complications that can arise from sharing something as simple as your friends list. For example, if your friends don’t restrict access to who can see who they’re friends with, other Facebook users could theoretically search via the friendship and see your posts on their Timeline, even if you have changed your own settings.
Despite Facebook’s efforts to make understanding and using your privacy controls easier (and the potential value in Graph Search), the fact remains that many users are concerned about how previously seemingly harmless information and past updates and long-forgotten photos can be easily found and dredged up again when using the new product. Not everyone understands how their information can be used, and they can’t opt out: Facebook took away the option to not appear in search results a few weeks before launching Graph Search.