New changes coming to Facebook

July 15, 2013

by Melanie Stone/Crain's Social

On Monday, Facebook began rolling out Graph Search to all U.S. users of the social network. It has been available in beta for a few months. This new tool allows users to search Facebook's database of information from over one billion users. Graph Search compiles data from users' likes, photo tags, location data and more. According to Facebook's description of its update, "these search results help you explore connections between people, places and things, and make fun discoveries."

To use Graph Search, you must be using the American English version of Facebook. You simply navigate to the top of the page and enter text into the search bar. For instance, you might want to find a certain coworker online. Just type: "friends who work at ABC." Then, Facebook will pull up a list of users who fit that description.

There is an endless amount of ways to use Graph Search. Other search examples might include "friends of friends who went to Northwestern University," "restaurants in Chicago liked by my friends," and "employers of my followers."

While Graph Search is helpful for research purposes, there are many privacy concerns surrounding the update. Users' personal details are now accessible to anyone on the site, which could lead to surprises and problems, such as an incriminating photo you liked in 2007. In order to stay safe on Facebook, many news sites are advising people to check their privacy settings using the "Activity Log," which contains all of your past comments, photos and posts. To prevent any potential damage, users must unlike and untag anything they do not want the public to see.

It is also recommended that users clean up their "About" pages. This is the place containing every group, musician, book, movie and TV show you've has ever liked. Another option is editing the privacy settings of your particular preference. For example, you could make your favorite movies private information by clicking "Edit Privacy."

As of now, this searchable database is only accessible on desktop computers. Graph Search will be available on mobile devices later this year.

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