So you can use Facebook Graph Search to find “Married people who like Prostitutes” (and then click on one button to get a list of their spouses), “Spouses of married people who like [cheat-on-your-partner dating site] Ashley Madison” or “Family members of people who live in China and like [the very very banned] Falun Gong”.
Some of those — particularly the first one — will be “ironic” likes. Saying you like something on Facebook doesn’t mean you actually like it, after all. But others won’t; and it’s hard to imagine the Chinese government particularly caring if someone expressed support for Falun Gong “ironically” or not.
And then there’s the creeper potential (try “Single women who live nearby and who are interested in men and like Getting Drunk”, for instance).
Oh, and here’s a link to the Tumblr blog that got the press into a tizzy of article writing. There are some interesting comments from the blogger himself, and you can scroll down to see his few entries. He makes the important point that these are the early days of “graph search” and that the people exposed by these searches aren’t necessarily stupid – they simply don’t know enough to worry about privacy.
These People Aren’t Stupid
Maybe people will get a bit more savvy as a result of this; most likely, they won’t. The people showing up here aren’t stupid: they just don’t have the knowledge required to be safe. If I took my car to a garage for a tune-up, a disreputable mechanic could fleece me for unwanted repairs and I’d never know it: that doesn’t make me stupid, it just means my knowledge is in other areas.
Graph Search jokes are a good way of startling people into checking their privacy settings — but most people will never actually be affected by accidentally making data ‘public’. (Of course, for the unlucky ones, it won’t be a gamble worth taking.)
They weren’t worried enough about privacy before, but now, maybe, graph search will make them worry more.