3 Myths Around Facebook Graph Search

Facebook’s Graph Search launch this week sent every online privacy expert to new levels of alarm, and with good reason. Although Facebook has tried to address these concerns, if you read the fine print, there’s still reason to worry about online privacy protection. Let’s debunk three falsehoods that are currently circulating about Graph Search:

Myth 1: You can’t be found if parts of your profile are set to private

Facebook says that any other user can find you through Graph Search, with the exception of those who you have blocked. They don’t even have to be friends with you. So much for social media privacy. More than 160 million active Facebook users in the United States alone could find you. Unless you’ve blocked a good portion Facebook (why not just delete your profile at that point?), you’ll still appear in a search, even if you’ve limited the specific aspects of your profile that can be seen.

Myth 2: Photos of you can only be seen by the audience you choose

There is a shred of truth here. While it’s true that your photo privacy settings apply to Graph Search results, friends of other people tagged in the same photo as you will be able to see that picture. You’ll have to remove the tag or request that the photo be taken down if you want to avoid this issue entirely. Think that hiding pictures from your timeline will protect you? It won’t – these photos are still searchable.

Myth 3: It’s easy to adjust what people can find about you

Mark Zuckerberg claimed this week that Facebook will send every user a reminder message before Graph Search kicks in. If only it were as easy to adjust privacy settings as the somewhat dismissive message makes it seem – “Please take some time to review who can see your stuff.”

Facebook suggests three complicated steps to shield yourself – adjust the different audiences who can see parts of your profile, review items hidden from your timeline and adjust privacy settings for that content, and then adjust your About section.

You could also use the “View As” function, which allows you to see how your profile appears to specific people. Helpful, yes, but for those who have hundreds of friends, this process is such a time drain that you’d almost need to hire someone to do it for you.

John Sileo is an online privacy expert and keynote speaker on social media privacy, identity theft and fraud. His clients included the Department of Defense, Pfizer, and Homeland Security. See his recent work on 60 Minutes, Anderson Cooper and Fox Business.