Facebook Graph Search – How To Stay Out Of Its Reach

I am not adverse to new concepts or technology. Rather, I am intrigued and try to discover more about them. Being the inquisitive person that I am, I potter around, try to find out further details and ascertaining whether it could be of use to me or others. So when I heard of Facebook Graph Search, I naturally wanted to know what it means to me. And to other parents, like you dear reader. J

What I found out about Facebook Graph Search is like all things, there’s both a good and bad side. The good side is that it can help one search for like-minded people, people who share similar hobbies, interests and connect with them. This can be fun for mature people to find and form a group of say, hikers, or food bloggers. But where school kids are concerned, I am worried. Though Facebook doesn’t allow kids below 13 to join the social network, children often forge age to do as they please. And therein lies the problem.

Facebook Graph Search is rather intrusive. It collects every little detail you have shared over the years-including your posts, likes, subscriptions, pics and comments and allows your friends and their friends to view them. It collects information from your profile, albums, and posts to help others find you. In that sense, it’s like being put through a scanner with the general public watching the monitor. Your privacy goes for a toss, unless you have stringent privacy settings.

Searches can range from ordinary ones like “people who love baking and live in Bangalore” to this weird one that searches for ‘single women who live nearby and who are interested in men and like getting drunk.” Weird and scary!

Can minors connect with strangers? Facebook says they can, if they have shared their contact info.

How do minors connect with other people?

Like adults, minors can appear in search results. Some things, like their school, address, hometown or birthday may only be visible to their friends, friends of their friends, and/or other minors. Adults and minors can also receive a friend request from someone who is not already a friend of a friend, such as a family relative or a friend with whom they have no mutual friends. Because friend requests may come from adults they don’t know, minors should always be careful when accepting these requests.

Messages are handled differently for minors and adults:

 Minors  Adults
Minors can receive messages from people who are friends of friends and people who have their contact information (ex: email address or phone number). This may include adults they don’t know. Adults can be messaged by anyone on Facebook.

So go to your and your child’s Facebook pages right away and check privacy settings. Simply posting an update asking friends to change their privacy settings for ‘friends’ may not be of much help.

Follow these simple steps to secure your Facebook posts:

1)      Click on ‘Privacy Settings’. Go to more settings. From the left hand side option, click on all one by one and edit settings to either “only me” or “friends” or “custom”. Remember, the more stringent you are, the less are the chances of your details appearing on a graph search.

2)      Activity Log: Check your activity log to hide posts or pics, edit your history and to decide what can be viewed on your Timeline.

3)      Turn off the option of ‘Do you want other search engines to link to your timeline?’

4)       Apps: Its desirable to turn off apps for kids as they collect a lot of information on the sly

Right now, we needn’t worry about tools that dig deeper than general info. As Dan Farber says, “Graph Search can help discover shared likes and connections, but at a more granular level, the search engine doesn’t go very deep.”

But there’s one thing we will all do well to remember. Choose your online friends wisely. Give a good thought to who can view your pics and posts. Most times, the cybercriminal, bully or the stalker is a person who knows you and has some scores to settle. What can be an easier option than harming a person’s reputation online or misusing data, all the while remaining anonymous?

And as always, use McAfee Mobile Security for your smartphones to keep your data and your identity safe.