Hacker News new | past | comments | ask | show | jobs | submit login
Actual Facebook Graph Searches (actualfacebookgraphsearches.tumblr.com)
509 points by ig1 on Jan 23, 2013 | hide | past | web | favorite | 239 comments



With great power comes great responsibility.

Companies such as Facebook and the like undoubtedly draw great power from their "social graph"; however, human interactions are subtle, complex, multifaceted and often contradictory.

Nothing good can come out of applying dumb algorithms (that is, any algorithm) to a sufficiently rich "social graph"; it will always lead to situations like that which are, at best, embarrassing, and at worst, dangerous, for whoever is in the system.

I don't think it's a matter of doing things the right way or fixing them- trying to put human relationships in a computer system will never reproduce the human experience (however, you may make marketers very happy). The best you can do is complete certain very focused subsets of it in an interesting way.

Zuckerberg's views on privacy and openness are laughable, and to be completely expected from someone of his background and world experience. If you think about who the average Facebook employee is, you'd realize that you probably wouldn't want them to be in charge of designing a system meant to model the intricacies of human interaction.


Nothing good can come out of applying dumb algorithms (that is, any algorithm) to a sufficiently rich "social graph"; it will always lead to situations like that which are, at best, embarrassing, and at worst, dangerous, for whoever is in the system.

What does this even mean? The "dumb algorithm" here will (a) take a user's query and (b) search that user's friends and public profiles for hits on that query. What's next: shouting about the robots taking over? Lamenting about how we're all losing our humanity and man weren't things better back in the old days?

I'm really disappointed this is the top comment on HN's top post. Users identified by Graph Search have public accounts and have willingly entered personal information into Facebook. We go thorough this song-and-dance every year: FB updates security policies, everyone is up in arms, then -- gasp! -- everyone updates their security settings. Facebook has a clear transaction with users: build a profile, get sold as eyeballs to advertisers. If you don't like it, then quit.

"With great power comes great responsibility," indeed. People have received numerous warnings about Facebook and privacy, and yet they've chosen to share personal information with everyone they know. At this point the user is responsible for choosing to participate or drop out. Meanwhile, every third HN post includes a commenter, wagging their finger, reminding us in a nasally, know-it-all voice that we're not the customer if we're not paying.

Is Graph Search really that shocking to you--to anyone on HN? Why the hell is anyone up in arms about this in 2013, given what we know about social networks?


If you fail to see the danger that a tool with the ability to search a network for such things as "Islamic men interested in other men, living in Tehran," a tool that can then display their place of work or other contact details (that they may have willingly ((yet unwittingly)) entered), in the hands of bullies, bigots or oppressive regimes then personally I feel you are similarly limited in your world experience to what the grandparent poster is accusing Zuckerberg of being.

Basically, it's one of two things:

1.) such incredible naiveté that, frankly: you require supervision

2.) such hideous cynicism, so deeply felt, that it represents, to my sensibilities, a form of evil

This thing is dangerous. The people to whom it poses danger are the ones least likely even to comprehend the danger imposed upon them.

I cannot see how you could defend such a thing.

BTW: decrying the state of HN when you feel personally ill at ease with the general feeling of the community is poor form and a very strong indicator of butthurt.


Here's a thought: If you live in a country where people are summarily executed for being gay, don't put "I'm gay" on a public website with your name on it.

YES people should be allowed to be gay in Tehran, and YES Facebook should help them with that - and they do: By not requiring you to enter your sexuality.

I don't live in Tehran, so I am privileged here - but if I put "I did tax fraud, I win!" on my public Facebook profile, and the tax authorities decided to investigate me, anyone suggesting that I didn't bring that upon myself, frankly required supervision. Even if I did it on my closed Facebook profile and a "friend" decided to report me, it's still not Facebook's fault.


> YES people should be allowed to be gay in Tehran, and YES Facebook should help them with that - and they do: By not requiring you to enter your sexuality.

Forget about being gay in Tehran. How about being gay in cyberspace?

It strikes me that you are of the belief that cyberspace ought to mimic life in meatspace directly. That one fixed identity should be all a person is entitled to.

What a waste of so many wonderful possibilities!

Cyberspace and the promise of a digital space in which to express abstract selves is something precious that is to be protected.

I believe this and I believe that exposing innocents to those running at a deficit of scruple for personal enrichment is evil.


> It strikes me that you are of the belief that cyberspace ought to mimic life in meatspace directly.

If it's a problem that Facebook uncovers someone who's gay in Tehran, then that is only because that persons cyberspace identity mimics his meatspace one. If the gay person in Tehran profile doesn't actually link up to a physical person in Tehran, then there's no added danger to anyone.


Does anyone on this thread know why they have to identify the people's photos and names in the search to still allow marketers to be succesful?

If it didn't identify individuals would it be any less useful to marketers?


Maybe we missed each other... In my example I am talking about a man whose identity is necessarily hidden in meatspace due to an oppressive government.

Cyberspace allows him freedom from this oppression.

Hope that makes it clearer.


Wait, then what's the problem?


He is 'outed' in meatspace by his cyberspatial identities trough the irresponsibility of FB and himself, and all of the other none the wiser users enabled through this product to harm themselves.


This reminds me of gun control debate. The more features FB enables to dig deeper in the social graph, the more chances for people to shoot themselves in the foot.

Should we restrict guns so there are less accidents and murders with them, or should we trust personal responsibility, with the cost it goes attached? Is restricting even possible?

That's for you to decide, but a cost certainly exists.


What is your opinion on the following scenario:

An "Islamic gay man living in Tehran" in 1997 creates a web page and populates it with exactly the same personal information you are describing. Sometime later Google comes of age and indexes his site for the world to easily discover.

Do you feel that Google and Facebook are acting differently in this scenario, and if so, why?


I do. Primarily because Facebook caters to users with low technical ability and includes baked in privacy settings that are notoriously ambiguous and difficult to understand.

Facebook actively promotes an anti-privacy styled online presence.

Those with the skills to build a website in '97, along with the requisite metatags to allow for the type of indexing you describe can reasonably be expected to understand what they are doing.

Not so with Facebook.

Adding content to a webpage is a pro-active move. Vanilla Facebook with no security tweaks or other expert knowledge (by my understanding) leaves users wide open through no action on the part of that user.

Did anyone opt-in to being included in Graph Search results? If they knew what it was, would anyone do this?

It's an interesting question that you pose and I think there is definitely more to it but the answer above is from the top of my head. I will mull on it some more and add should I come up with anything further.


I built a website in or around '97 on geocities. You talk about metatags being required for indexing but I think you forget that the web was young once. Google had a voracious appetite to index and they still do.

The barrier to entry for someone to build a website in '97 wasn't much higher than it is now. Things just look prettier these days.


Prettier than Geocities? Unpossible.


> such things as "Islamic men interested in other men, living in Tehran,"

Do you know what this search will return? "0 results". Because nobody who is gay in Iran is going to put the fact that they are interested in other men on their facebook.


If you scroll down the link, it's right there.

http://actualfacebookgraphsearches.tumblr.com/post/412333061...


Sorry, I should have added a final point that I made in another post: "Interested in" is not interpreted by everybody as "sexual attracted in". I'd be willing to bet that in Iranian culture, it's quite common to say you are interested in being friends with men, and it is not viewed as homosexual.


Bullies, zealots, and police are prone to misinterpreting words in the way which is most beneficial to THEIR ends, not yours. The kids denied entry into the US because they said they were going to "destroy" $CITY were a prime example of this, where "destroy" was local slang for "get drunk and party in $town".

Similarly, anyone looking to oppress gays will say, "He likes men. Why didn't he say he likes women? He must be gay." You can't argue what you really meant in a kangaroo court, or when a mob of angry villagers are throwing stones: it's too late by then.


I completely agree. Let's stop using words altogether because they can be misunderstood. You first please.


"Is Graph Search really that shocking to you--to anyone on HN?"

Are serial killers who actually kill people really shocking to people? Well, the answer to that question depends a lot on how much you let its framing determine your thinking, right?

Sure, I too, personally, don't share anything personally identifying on FB, in violation of FB and G+'s TOS BTW. But all those naive people, they walked through the door, they didn't see the samurai behind the door and pow, what do they expect? They won't be play in the Seven Samurai now. Why should we Samurai give a heck about them morons? Well, there are some reasons, starting with the fact that we have personal relations, with non-Samurai.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Seven_Samurai

"Again we are defeated," Kambei muses. "The winners are those farmers. Not us."


Are serial killers who actually kill people really shocking to people?

Yes, universally so. Because they kill people and murder is a Bad Thing.

Social networks that index information produced willingly by members aren't in the same country as your analogy.


Except that in Iran, you get hung for being gay. It's not a huge stretch to see what this search is implying

> “Islamic men interested in men who live in Tehran, Iran“… “Places where they’ve worked.”


Indeed.

The thing is, the results in that screenshot don't necessarily mean gay.

Interested in might mean I'm interested in networking or meeting new people, being male or female. Interested in doesn't necessarily mean I'm interested in sticking my penis in *.

Also, all people in that screenshot are also interested in females.


We've heard plenty of stories of false accusations in order to settle old family scores.

"Interested in men" does not necessarily mean in a homosexual way, but it can be twisted to look that way.

I accept what I'm implying is a stretch, but I'm not 100% comfortable with Graph Search either.


What should Facebook do?

Censor itself in Iran?


It is obvious that you either didn't read the search queries on the linked page, or you don't understand the impact that some of these queries can have on peoples' lives.

People are stupid, so when warned, the will still act stupid. Despite this it is still the responsibility of whoever is able, to protect them, even against themselves.

I also agree with the argument of others here that facebook, to some, seems like a social requirement. It is like having a phone. You don't NEED one, like we need air, but it makes social life harder not to. That of course doesn't mean that you need to put everything online, but that is another matter. What is happening with Facebook again and again though is that they change the rules. 'Liking' used to be quite harmless, now suddenly, my old 'harmless' likes can get someone killed or arrested, as is demonstrated in the demo searches. Not good...


>it is still the responsibility of whoever is able, to protect them, even against themselves.

I think this is a philosophy you will find a great level of disagreement with. The ignorant should be protected and informed, the stupid, notsomuch.


>People are stupid, so when warned, the will still act stupid. Despite this it is still the responsibility of whoever is able, to protect them, even against themselves.

Is this really a mainstream political philosophy on HN?


We keep smoking when we know it is unhealthy, we keep drinking and driving, we vote on politicians based on one liners and the amount of media attention they get, we believe that the evolution theory is 'just a theory', we get in huge debt because of loans we cannot pay and we keep posting things on Facebook despite knowing better.

We are stupid in the sense that we do very stupid things even though we, in many cases (should), know better. It is the task of 'us' (people who know about internet privacy) to protect other people around us from being stupid with Facebook just as I would like to be protected by others in the things I am stupid at.


> Users identified by Graph Search have public accounts and have willingly entered personal information into Facebook.

This is quite misleading. Before Graph Search much of that capability was limited to Facebook Inc. and the affiliated government. This really opens the floodgates.

Were they warned? If you follow Wired and HackerNews yes. For general population though it's not something they were warned enough. They teach you how to cross a road in elementary; nobody explains you how to use privacy controls.

The whole liking and sharing ecosystem is promoted by social media itself. While you have skills to be critical of privacy implications, many more people have very vague idea or none whatsoever. Facebook de-facto is seen as a way of communicating with your social circle, that's why normal people join it; there is a (misguided) expectation of the same kind of privacy that you have in a clique of friends.


"If you don't like it, then quit"

My former boss said this in a morale speech. At the time I thought was being an a-hole. There had been some complaints on safety and usefulness of an exercise and that was his response to it.

Then I realized he was right, and that's why he's a former boss of mine.

Just silently quitting facebook was something I did recently. It's not the end of the world. Quite the opposite really.


"If you don't like it, then quit"

My former boss said this in a morale speech. At the time I thought was being an a-hole. There had been some complaints on safety and usefulness of an exercise and that was his response to it.

Then I realized he was right, and that's why he's a former boss of mine.

Also, bjust silently quitting facebook and sinking back to real life


> If you don't like it, then quit.

Assuming you're socially allowed to quit Facebook.


"Assuming you're socially allowed to quit Facebook."

I don't even know what that means. How is it that all of the rest of us managed to quite Facebook and continue to have a relatively vibrant social life. Is it the case that WhatsApp/Viber/SMS/Email are no longer considered effective means of communication to get together?


> How is it that all of the rest of us managed to quite Facebook and continue to have a relatively vibrant social life.

Because some people have different lives than you.


Please provide a little story of the type of person who cannot quit facebook, and why he cannot quit facebook. Until you do, you're just making up boogie men.


It's true that some people (like me) only use Facebook for its usefulness as a social tool. In that case, just strip your account of any serious personal information.


Quitting Facebook is really not that big of a deal. You won't become a social pariah, an outcast or loose all your friends because you cancel a website account.


You might well lose touch with a geographically diverse crowd of people. FB and the like keep people involved in the minutiae of each others lives and very much help keep real friendships alive.

Of course FB is trying to destroy this as much as possible by controlling what you see of what people post. Trying to decide what's important to me is another facet of the 'dumb' algorithms the OP complains about.


>Of course FB is trying to destroy this as much as possible by controlling what you see of what people post.

Because the alternative brings the wingnuts out. The more Facebook lets people see, the more they get castigated for doing what the entire freaking purpose of a social network site is!


I know there have been a lot of issues about information leaking out because of various security and privacy defaults being bad, but that's not what I meant.

There seems to be some algorithm deciding what gets put into your stream by weighting posts on who you most frequently interact with and how "important" the news is, meaning that your fb experience turns more and more into a echo chamber, and posts by people that don't post often seem to get lost.

Anyway, meh I say, meh!


I guess that depends.

I'm 33, married, two kids.

I have never used Facebook but I do feel 'out of the loop.' especially since the baby arrived - I don't hear about things 'through the grapevine' and subsequently seldom find myself with many social options on the days that I have free.

This is good for my startup but bad for my self esteem.


Hey there, 34, married, 3 kids here. You have two good options in this situation. One is to get your wife on FB so she can keep you in the loop. The other is to have one more kid and then you won't have to worry about what to do with your free time because you won't have any ever again. If you're starting up, I'd recommend option A.


Shit. I'm also 34... Totally forgot I had a birthday recently. My life seems to take place between 4am zombie walks to the kitchen to make milk bottles.

I do have sort of a wife's account vector but tbh: she also starts feeling shit and creeped out after being in there.

It's ok, as the apologists are wont to point out, there is a choice.

Mine is made.


There, of course, people whose circumstances mean that Facebook is a (/the) major source of human interaction in their lives. I really wish those people, and the rest of us, could move to something less ethically troubling.


Because people didn't have a social life or communicate before there was Facebook? Give me a break.


I can't help but think that statement is similar to saying, "Letters are a perfectly valid means of communication; I don't see the use of these telephones."


> "Nothing good can come out of applying dumb algorithms (that is, any algorithm) to a sufficiently rich "social graph""

These aren't algorithms. This is a search engine - what you put into it is up to you. It can be anywhere from the silliness seen in the link, to "friends who live in London" before you take a trip.

This is just handing people another tool - the uses, and misuses, of said tool are entirely on the users.

> " If you think about who the average Facebook employee is, you'd realize that you probably wouldn't want them to be in charge of designing a system meant to model the intricacies of human interaction."

A snarky and mean-spirited stereotyping of all nerds as socially inept! How clever.


  | This is just handing people another tool - the uses,
  | and misuses, of said tool are entirely on the users.
The same applies to building hand-held nuclear weapons and handing them out on a street corner.

The same could be said of convincing people to put CCTVs in their houses and then hooking them all up chatroullete-style.

That doesn't mean that it's a good idea.

  | A snarky and mean-spirited stereotyping of all
  | nerds as socially inept! How clever.
I see it more as Mark Zuckerberg having lived a rather sheltered life. E.g., his view that people having different 'faces' with different people as being disingenuous is laughable. Many people only show selected parts of themselves to certain peer groups, while showing other parts to different peer groups.

That, and I assumed the 'average Facebook employee' part was assuming that they were all 20-somethings from (on average) middle-class or above backgrounds (i.e. possibly sheltered and lacking in life experience).


Maybe because I am also a "20-something", but I do not see how Zuckerburg/facebook employees being "sheltered" (I don't know why you asserted that, unless you went to high school with him) has anything to do with Social Graph.

1.) The fact that they had this information is not surprising at all. Again maybe because I am a 20-something, I think its pretty obvious that if you had terabytes of data you would want to search it.

2.) While many people do show different parts of themselves to certain peer groups, the data Facebook has was posted to Facebook. Facebook did not install a CCTV in anyones home and log their guilty pleasures. This gets parroted a lot, but if you don't want someone to find out you love Lifetime originals, don't post it on facebook. It won't end up in the graph, and you can continue playing your identity game.


  | Facebook did not install a CCTV in anyones home and log
  | their guilty pleasures. This gets parroted a lot, but if
  | you don't want someone to find out you love Lifetime
  | originals, don't post it on facebook.
You're either misreading my post or being disingenuous. I said:

  | The same could be said of convincing people to put CCTVs
  | in their houses
I could easily just say, "If you don't want people to see what you do, then don't allow a CCTV into your house." You're acting like CCTVs are by definition involuntary.

People put most things into Facebook because they don't understand the real implications of it. They say, "I like Lifetime originals," because they want their friends to know that, or because they view Facebook's profile questions like a survey. Most of these people are techno-illiterate (including the newer generations which are just more adept at using/consuming tech than their parents).


GuiA answered your question above: http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=5101237


>A snarky and mean-spirited stereotyping of all nerds as socially inept! How clever.

Not at all. I'm just willing to bet that the average Facebook employee has never had to hide his sexuality/political/religious beliefs for fear of execution/incarceration/abuse to his family/etc. Yet a non-negligible part of Facebook's user base are people precisely in this situation.

That being said, the very fact that you call what the link demonstrates "silliness" speaks for itself.


> I'm just willing to bet that the average Facebook employee has never had to hide his sexuality/political/religious beliefs for fear of execution/incarceration/abuse to his family/etc. Yet a non-negligible part of Facebook's user base are people precisely in this situation.

And how is that different from real-life?


I think by 'silliness' he's referring to "Girls who live nearby who are single and like Getting drunk!" Fair call in my opinion.

I made this point in another post: the take-away from this link shouldn't be how bad it was of Facebook to not realise that making available powerful search tools for already-public data might put some people in an unfortunate spotlight. The real take-away is that we shouldn't live in a world where people should be scared to be openly gay in Iran, or openly a Falun Gong member in China. Those are the things we should focus on and try and change. And we should appreciate, rather than chastise, the tools which make us realise that there are things we need to improve in the world.


This isn't an opportunity for wishful thinking. Read about what's happened to Walid Husayin, a Palestinian man from the West Bank, since blogging openly about being an atheist:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Walid_Husayin

All the stuff he's gone through—death threats, imprisonment, torture—has been for the sole "crime" of apostasy.

This graph search is going to enable sadists to lower their bar for finding victims from "people who openly and loudly proclaim their beliefs" to "people who accidentally clicked 'like' or forgot to fix their privacy settings." I have some difficulty deflecting the blame for Walid's treatment to simply being born on the wrong side of a fence. He may have known better, or perhaps he is on a crusade for religious freedom, but it's going to get a lot harder when we start talking about people with no interest in being martyrs being tortured and killed for this great cause of openness and improving the world.


I can see your point. I'm not saying it's a pleasant prospect to consider. I do consider these sorts of things inevitable teething pains of a one-way process though. Perhaps that seems a little harsh.


I'm not sure what you mean by "one-way process." I think there are certainly situations where bad things happen yet nobody is responsible and nothing needs to be done differently. I do think randomness plays a big role in my arriving at that conclusion, and I don't see a very big role for randomness in the potential abuses of graph search.


Often the best first step to stop something evil is to remove the tools that make evil's job easier. In this case Facebook is facilitating persecution by making better and better tools to filter data on a large number of people simultaneously. If you want persecution to stop you can't just automatically absolve Facebook of responsibility for the consequences of the design choices they make. Sure people should be careful about what they post online but Facebook and the companies advertising on it offer incentives to get people to do it. Past 'likes' will now be easily accessible forever. It isn't only what you've put on your profile, inferences can be drawn based on the information about your friends. If all your friends are openly gay but you don't want others to know you're gay it can now quickly be deduced with a search.


>And we should appreciate, rather than chastise, the tools which make us realise that there are things we need to improve in the world.

What? Of course we all want the world to be a better place, but Facebook has no right to put people's lives in danger to try and force the issue. If they're so worried about making the world a better place they should do it themselves, not just open the flood gates on their users.


> we shouldn't live in a world where people should be scared to be openly gay in Iran, or openly a Falun Gong member in China. Those are the things we should focus on and try and change.

Right. Wonderful. How?


How should I know?


So in the mean time it's ok that this sort of tool is freely accessible to make it real easy to persecute them?


You could watch The Ascent of Man by Jacob Bronowski.


Bought this series on DVD recently, only watched a few episodes but it really is great. His presenting style leaves a little to be desired but this is a man of extraordinary intelligence and breadth of knowledge.

If anyone is wondering on the subject matter, it plots of the ascent of man not in terms of biological evolution but cultural evolution - which seems to me to be an oft overlooked facet of how we came to be.


Sounds interesting. Any reason in particular you're recommending it?


Well, it's fantastic, but what makes it germane here is because the author/narrator switched from being a mathematician/physicist to a biologist mid-career because he saw no other way to continue working on nuclear physics without causing more harm. Several other physicists of that era did.

We are to some extent liable for the ill perpetrated by other people using our technology. The extent is debatable, but it must be greater than "not at all."


This is a tool that lets you search data, some of which was collected on a false(or dishonest) expectation set by facebook that the data will not be searchable in this manner. That is a violation of trust. I say this as a huge fan and user of facebook's privacy features.

In most cases, I am arguing on the other side telling people how misinformed they are when they complain about a lack of privacy features. But this feature even has me blindsided and I am someone who uses almost all facebook privacy features very carefully(I have posts visible to Public to posts visible to only selected people, for example).

I fully expect a new set of privacy controls from facebook specifically around this feature.


The Facebook Graph Search article making the rounds mentions that (a) posts are not searchable at this time, and (b) FB is launching a suite of new privacy settings for Graph Search.

Here's a link:

http://www.wired.com/business/2013/01/the-inside-story-of-gr...


This tool is part of a much larger machine that may actually affect society more than it serves it.


What exactly do you mean by that?


I think socialization under the umbrella of a facebook type environment will eventually create predictable and malleable identities which are inherently the consequence of a mix of various societal pressures which are in turn constricted through the lens of the facebook environment.

Combine that with facebook's transparent use of corporate cohabitation with people's relationships, and I think you quickly have a society which is much more determined and artificial.


I think "socialisation under the umbrella of a facebook type environment" was inevitable one way or another. The advantages of an efficient system for socialising with a centralised online persona system are just too huge to forgo. I'd be interested to hear what you consider might have been alternatives, but personally, I think the economics lead inexorably to a free-to-play ad-supported system such as Facebook. Show me the day when you can convince a couple hundred million people to sign up for a paid social network product and I'll eat my hat. Show me the day that an open-source community can compete with a for-profit business in terms of attracting the best talent willing and able to slave away for hours to build great products, and I'll eat my hat.

I don't think it means the end of individuality as we know it. We've had ad-supported newspapers for hundreds of years now and people seemed to manage okay.


I think you can create services which achieve the same function as facebook while making a dispersion of self and novelty apparent to its users. I'm not arguing monetization, but the means and consequences of exploiting users responsibly.


Yet again, I struggle to make sense of what exactly you're trying to say. You're using a lot of big words, but not necessarily making your point clear. What does "making a dispersion of self and novelty apparent" mean?


The ability to express your self uniquely among different groups of people without residual consequences, and the ability to explore disparate interests in the same way.


But what about free ponies?


I assume something like:

The social implications (for good or ill) are greater than the immediate, personal benefits are (in aggregate).


Wow. When Graph Searches were announced, I thought "meh, I'm tired of FB...". I never thought to explore what Graph Searches actually meant. And I would never have done so or will do so, but I'm very glad that someone has investigated the system.

>it will always lead to situations like that which are [bad]

I wonder if there isn't some definition analogous to "Turing complete" for social graphs? i.e. with a sufficiently powerful API, any question can be answered. Just as Turing complete-ness leads to viruses, worms, etc, might "XYZ complete" social networks lead directly and predictably towards A, B and C bad outcomes?

>Zuckerberg's views on privacy and openness are laughable

Perhaps. I'm not versed in them well enough to know. But I wonder if he isn't a bit Bill-Gates-eyan in his perspective of pushing the border between X-Y quite hard to see what bends and what breaks. For Microsoft, it was Code-Data and, while there were certainly people saying don't mix Code and Data!, people happily used their Excel spreadsheets and we suffered mightily from the resulting viruses. Whereas "viruses" were the unintended consequence of mixing Code-Data, are "outings" the result of mixing Social-Search?


Zuckerberg thinks people complain about privacy because they're old-fashioned and scared of the future. He thinks in the future we're all going to be extremely open, share shit all the time, aaaand basically the whole world is going to be one big chat room where people don't really hide things any more.

Personally I think he's probably right. It has shades of that old totalitarian argument, 'why should you be worried about privacy if you don't have anything to hide?' but hopefully it'll be a little more... forgiving than that.


Zuckerberg hopes that we're open to facebook*

I don't see all this "open" information, because I don't have a facebook account.


>He thinks in the future we're all going to be extremely open, share shit all the time, aaaand basically the whole world is going to be one big chat room where people don't really hide things any more.

He claimed to believe that after he had make everyone's private account information public again for about the fifth time. I'm not sure if he really believes something so ridiculous and nonsensical or he simply decided to claim to have a motto that would explain why he kept revealing everyone's secrets other than the obvious one: it makes him more advertising money to do so.


It's worth noting that it's in Zuckerberg's financial interest should such a No Secrets reality come to pass.

Which should give one pause about whether he's giving an honest, objective assessment of the available information. One would expect quite a bit of confirmation bias when billions are on the line.

As to whether there will be a time without secrets: I don't see how that's even possible. Humans are social and tribal but they're also political. Politics is all about the tactful (mis)application of lies to swing tribal balance.

There will always be something people want to keep 'private'. Always something that the tribes disagree on and judge one another over. Regardless of whether those feelings and beliefs are substantiated in objective reality.


I don't think so either. But I do prefer people use their real name online if possible. I know it is not always possible right now, but do want these problems to be fixed.


> aaaand basically the whole world is going to be one big chat room where people don't really hide things any more.

Does this include Corporations and Governments? Or just the users of pathetic chat rooms like Facebook?


Sorry, "pathetic chat rooms"? What are you trying to say? And why are you saying whatever it is so bitterly?


Does this even include Zuckerberg?


> I wonder if there isn't some definition analogous to "Turing complete" for social graphs? i.e. with a sufficiently powerful API, any question can be answered. Just as Turing complete-ness leads to viruses, worms, etc, might "XYZ complete" social networks lead directly and predictably towards A, B and C bad outcomes?

This graph search is just a fancy database interface, it's basically "SELECT name, age, etc from users WHERE location = 'Teheran' AND looksfor = 'men'" (massively over-simplified).

So, no it can not answer _any_ question, because it's limited by _what_ and _how_ you ask _and_ the data. You can't ask it something it doesn't already know.


Really? Nothing good? From any algorithm at all? How can you be so sure? Amazon seems to do a pretty good job thinking up new stuff I might like with its algorithms, for one.


Try an Amazon account which is shared with family members.

Amazon thinks I like electronics, Hello Kitty and bows.


I've got an arduino-powered robotic bow-gun firing Hello Kitty droid-doll you might be interested in...


Well, that's hardly Amazon's fault, it is?


Never mind that one account used for shopping for a family is a fairly common use case...


Do you want them to start reading your mind, or stop suggesting stuff altogether?


As suggested by another commenter, that's a false dichotomy. I'd argue there's lots of room for innovation and refinement here.

Manual or algorithmic identification of family members is one option, but I think there's something more to be gained here by understanding the behavior just a bit more abstractly... Shopping moods? Modes? Targets? Tasks? Something, possibly – but I'm only guessing here. The real power could come from actually working with/doing user research and prototyping.

I'd love the chance to work on such a project, actually – I had a chance to work with data from a study on the online shopping habits of mothers a few years ago and there's lots of interesting angles to possibly explore, IMHO.


They could realize those things are not usually liked by the same person, ask a user if this is a family account and let you define family members and their preferences within that account.


Honestly, I have to be nervous logging into my personal account with other people standing around. The "Recently Viewed" and "Recommended for You" are full of things I'd really rather my family members and most of my friends see.


I suspect you meant "not see".

That said, you can manage that at http://www.amazon.com/gp/history


I don't think he's saying that at all. The insanity is trying to construct a platform that manifests a person's entire social life. I think there's a harsh combination of conflating business interests and disinterested, contrived people sorting that is potentially very, very bad.


I'm not sure I follow you. Right now, Facebook knows roughly this much about me:

1) All of the people I have legitimated as Friends. 2) Screeds and screeds of data about the quality of all my connections with those friends (have I hid them from my news-feed? how much do I interact with their posts? how much do I interact with them? talk to them? share with them? stalk them? how much time do I spend in interactions with them? how do the patterns of my interactions change with them (mouse-click patterns, scroll patterns, typing patterns)? do I use different words (different emotions/more formal/informal language/different function word patterns?) 3) People I've stalked but haven't friended 4) Brands, companies, causes, ideas, things from history, all sorts of random shit I've liked (along with similar data to 2)) 5) What sorts of things I click on, how I leave the site and where I go. And certainly more.

Etc., etc., etc. Facebook didn't manifest my entire social life. They just built a platform which allowed me to socialise orders of magnitude more efficiently than before, a platform of great benefit to me, and one into which I've poured vast quantities of data (and the amount, quality and variety of the data is only set to increase as we open up more input modalities - eg eye-tracking, gesture-tracking, and biometrics). the data is all there. All facebook is doing is cobbling together some of the most very basic tools one might use to make sense of a subset of that data.


Do any of your family members under 12 have facebook? Imagine the aggregate of all their experiences in a decade or more.


My little brother and sister had it from 11 and 12 respectively. Yes, it's quite interesting to think about.

Anyway, what's your point? By the way, you're discussing this with someone who believes that in the future we will record and utilise orders of magnitude more amount of data about our lives and our planet than we do now, enough to make your eyes water, and furthermore, that we are inexorably fated to do so, and furthermore, that it's a really, really good trend, one which is going to play out in highly unpredictable and surprising ways.


So you're a fan of data, that's fair enough. Who isn't a fan of data? The issue is, who owns and controls that data? You, the true owner and source of the data, or some big advertising-driven tech giant with it's own crappy hollywood movie?

Not only that, but in order to make money from advertising, they link all this wonderful data (your data) with advertiser interests. Much of this linking is done under the radar, via rules you are not allowed to see.

It's very important to distinguish the benefits of shared data with ownership and control of the data, and the rules by which it is mined and accessed.

BTW, a lot of Facebook data is "self-expression" and if given the choice in real-time, many people would elect for NOT for their contribution to go into the tech-giants mainstream database. Going into "settings" and messing around with broader privacy options for content types and particular people is an absolute joke in terms of UX and human experience in relation to expressing personal views or communicating with friends.

"Privacy settings" does not come naturally in communication. Facebook knows this, and knows people will not bother or become lazy with privacy.

Bottom line is, Facebook is an inappropriate platform for the collected data that is your life.


What, in your opinion, would be an appropriate platform?


A platform which is transparent, open and shared by it's nature. A platform for which the first and foremost priority is to be trustworthy with no conflict of interest between being all the above and economically feasible. This would probably become a government-funded international push rather than a single corporation with commercial interests.

The big problem in the future will be the fact that as the line between "real" and "online" life diminishes, the party which holds the data will become an authority akin to governments we have today. When or why should we trust an authority? How can we be sure that the authority is trustworthy? Politics is hard enough and we all know that we can't trust politicians, how on earth are we going to trust a party with commercial interests to somehow manage our social lifes?

You seem very optimistic about things like Facebook collecting data and interlinking people's social life via their platform by using the collected data. I for one find this very scary, to such extent that I'll rather cripple my social life and not use Facebook than trust an commercial authority over the data collected about me which I have no control over.

I provide the data. I see the data. I own the data. I control the data. What is so hard about it? Honestly.


I suppose I've always assumed that no company can escape government and therefore democratic scrutiny in the long run. Maybe the situation is different in countries with more corporate corruption.

Also, not using facebook is difficult to imagine for me. It's pretty baked in to my life.


What zxcdw said. :-) Also, my previous post has typo, should read "IMHO FB is not currently an appropriate platform"... damn what a bad typo,.

The thing is, Facebook could be better by allowing members to invite outside data to flow into their feeds from chosen sources, and providing more freedom with data-exchange in general. Enforced segregation is costly.


Data doesn't need to be implicitly tied with self-expression.


...

Dude, what does that even mean?


I hate to flip the script on social networking, but I think google is doing a pretty good job with focusing on exploration and compartmentalization of friends and social groups in +. Maybe something like graph search is their eventual intention, but I really hope their vision is less...disastrous.


I'm surprised nobody has invoked godwin's law yet; ie searching for "Nazis who live in California".


> “Islamic men interested in men who live in Tehran, Iran“

This is funny, in Iran people don't quite understand what "interested in" means. In sign up process when they see "interested in" options, they think that means "are you interested in finding friends who are male?" (same for females). This is because:

1. People use VPN to access Facebook and Facebook can not localize/internationalize their experience.

2. Using translated Facebook sucks(at least translated in Farsi)

3. Concept of homosexual relationships is not known by many iranians because of lack of education.

So there is no wonder if people in Iran marking themself gay while they are not.

(with all respect to gay people)


I thought as much by the fact that all shown marked 'interested in men and women'


"Interested in" doesn't imply "sexually attracted to". If you are interested in creating friendships with men, they you will mark "Interested in men"


Iranians perfectly know what is homosexuality and some practice it in secret , they are not dumb , they just dont talk about it for obvious reasons.


Knowing what homosexuality is =/= assuming the purpose of an innocuous-sounding phrase like "Interested in" is intended as a declaration of homosexuality, especially if you're living in an environment where you can't see why anyone would conceivably want to publicly declare it.

I suspect those least likely to select "interested in: men" are homosexually-inclined Iranians who know exactly what it's for and wish they lived in an environment where they could tick it.


you are insulting them saying they cant even understand plain english, you dont have to live in USA to understand what "interested in" mean in that context , there is nothing innocent sounding in that expresssion, and i'm not english nor have an english culture. Dont take aliens for fools.


I'll give you a relevant example: Back in ~2006 it was possible to do similar searches within your college.

A disproportionately large number of people declaring their interest in both men and women were from China. Now it's possible that Chinese students were much more likely to be [openly] bisexual than British and European ones, but every shred of evidence I've ever seen (at college, in the media and living in a relatively-liberal ethnically Chinese country) points to the opposite.


This is a problem of terminology. "Interested in" doesn't necessarily imply "sexually attracted to".

Some people read "interested in" and put men and women, because they are interested in being friends with men and women.


Contrary to what a lot of people think, you can change the visibility of likes. This affects Graph Search, Timeline visibility, and also page visibility (I've personally tested these). The Admins of pages you like will still be able to see that you like their page.

Go to the Likes page on your timeline. Click the Edit button in the upper right. Privacy visibility buttons will pop up next to each Like category for you to change the visibility of Likes. Make sure to scroll down to the bottom so you don't miss the last category "Other Pages You Like."

Yes, Facebook intentionally doesn't do a good job of advertising this. For me, though, I'm satisfied that the option is there (and that my option to stalk my friends is there as well).


I appreciate the information, but this misses the point. Facebook hides privacy settings because privacy is bad for their business objectives, and most people will never bother to dig for these settings, leaving them open to the kinds of attacks demonstrated by the original post.


> Facebook hides privacy settings

I have a direct link to privacy settings in the header. I don't know how can they make it more visible.


Chart me a path from the privacy settings dialog in the header to changing the visibility of individual "likes", such that the average user can prepare to hide from random strangers when Open Graph Search goes public.

I dare you.


> Chart me a path from the privacy settings dialog in the header to changing the visibility of individual "likes",

And if he manages to do that, ask him to chart one which will be valid 2 months from now.

They keep changing that shit. Keeping up to speed is just a completely overwhelming sort of task which even most people who care about privacy wont have the stamina to do.


Yes but the settings are complex and counter-intuitive for average users.


Or perhaps because not many people are going to want to individually set the visibility of likes, and displaying it more prominently would be a usability nightmare.


Yes, but one of those searches was for family members of people who supported the Falun Gong. You may live in the US, be a member of the Falun Gong and your grandparents in China get picked up and shipped off for suspected support.

Even if the privacy settings do allow you to opt out of being visible in Graph Search (and there is an open question of if it would for a query that returns other people instead of you), now people's safety is involved for something they themselves have no control over.


Or perhaps don't like things you don't want other people to know about? Seems like the simplest solution.


Maybe this seems horrible right now, but Facebook didn't create these problems and contradictions, it just exposed them uncomfortably. I expect that the eventual abuses springing from this exposure will spur a counterreaction, hopefully with net-positive results. After all, what's the most meaningful take-away from this? Is it that Facebook is endangering individuals? Not really. Powerful, global social search tools like this were bound to happen eventually. The potential benefits of integrative technologies like this are just too great to ignore. No, the real take-away is this: sexual freedoms suck in Iran. Religious freedoms suck in China. And lots of people have embarrassing and/or contradictory and/or naive views and tastes.

So all this tells me is that we should focus on improving sexual freedoms in Iran and religious freedoms in China. Hopefully the people with embarrassing views will take care of themselves as tools such as this subject them to increasing scrutiny.


> Is it that Facebook is endangering individuals? Not really.

They most certainly are! Facebook keeps changing the rules of the game. There is a reason why so many countries have Ex post facto law. Facebook, by contract, ends up focusing on Ex post facto exploitation. Would people have put in these likes on the same account had they known that FB would create a search that would let anyone, anywhere do a simple query that exposes them in some way?


>Would people have put in these likes on the same account had they known that FB would create a search that would let anyone, anywhere do a simple query that exposes them in some way?

I doubt they'd have given a shit, let's be honest.


The majority, sure. But every time FB makes on of these changes some small percentage of people decide they've had enough.


And "Girls who are single and nearby and like getting drunk"... What noble redeeming value do you find in that search?


Increasing the efficiency of people's sex lives?


> And lots of people have embarrassing and/or contradictory and/or naive views and tastes.

That they should be keeping off the Internet.


Come on, don't be so harsh. Everyone has room to improve.


I'm not saying people shouldn't have X view, I'm saying today that they should know that posting, liking on facebook, etc. are equivalents of shouting it from the rooftop.

I could have expressed myself more carefully.


Short term this may be a problem, but long term it's probably a good thing. Hopefully once people become aware of what they're exposing they'll become more cautious.

Complaining about News Feed and Graph Search is basically saying you're ok with "security through obscurity". If I understand correctly, all of this information is already available to those who want to dig deep enough.


While it's (probably) true that the information is already available, it's not easily available.

If it's going to take me 25 days of tedious profile reading to find people who I seek (e.g. "Lesbian women from Greece who like Doritos"), I'm not going to do it. It's not practically available.

Graph Search changes that. Obscurity vanishes, along with any security it provided.


By 25 days of profile reading, I think you mean 2 days of writing a scraper and 10 days of tuning it? The rest being spent letting it run, reading hacker news, reddit, and your friends' facebook updates.


Facebook doesn't let any random bot crawl Facebook with scrapers. If you go to:

https://www.facebook.com/robots.txt

it says:

# Notice: if you would like to crawl Facebook you can

# contact us here: http://www.facebook.com/apps/site_scraping_tos.php

# to apply for white listing. Our general terms are available

# at http://www.facebook.com/apps/site_scraping_tos_terms.php

(Then there's a bunch of "Disallow:" statements for Baidu, Google, etc.)

If you follow the link, you can apply to Facebook for permission to do "automated data collection." Even if you do get permission, Facebook is very restrictive with what you're allowed to do with the scraped data.


You might not do it, but the organizations with resources and power to actually harm you certainly could.


> is basically saying you're ok with "security through obscurity".

You already said you were ok with "security through obscurity" when you logged in with a password.


Huh? Passwords aren't considered "security through obscurity".

http://stackoverflow.com/questions/4486171/isnt-a-password-a...


The very first answer to the question you posted seems to disagree. They poster basically points out that when people say "security through obscurity" they don't mean passwords. Well, of course they don't or they'd realize that security by obscurity is valid and used successfully every day. You just need more than one layer of protection. Passwords alone aren't enough, trying to obscure the port number of your service isn't enough, etc.


By your definition basically all computer security is security through obscurity. After all, crypto keys are really just obscure numbers that could be guessed.

The only exception would be an air gapped network. But wait, what if someone figured out the passcodes and physical keys to enter the building?!


spot on!


Consider: “Family members of people who live in China and like Falun Gong”.

And: ”When users recognize or fear that their privacy or confidentiality is compromised, true freedom of inquiry no longer exists.”

- American Library Association, http://www.ala.org/Template.cfm?Section=interpretations&...


Where's the EFF Panopticlick for your FB likes? To tell you how well you stick out or blend in with the crowd? (though blending in with the crowd is just security through obscurity...)

A couple days ago someone was asking for an automated FB deliker app/service, to automatically unlike everything you've liked on FB.


Best to just set it up so "Only you" can see your own likes.

http://abrax.us/Facebook/EditLikes.php


Will that prevent your family showing up when they search for family members who like something? Or just prevent you from showing up with your own likes visible?


Exfoliate for Android (which stopped working for me after timeline, but i haven't retried since)

http://www.exfoliateapp.com/

https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.worb.andro...


It's ironic -- the "anonymization" technique of pixelating the image and blanking the names doesn't really work anymore: one can easily just search by the other attributes to find the people again, there is enough entropy in that data.


The whole point of the site (other than lulz) is to highlight the privacy problems of Facebook, they obviously aren't going to completely protect the people who show up in those searches. What the blurring does is prevents the top 3-4 people in the results at the time of the search from being unfairly highlighted, and it doesn't keep any historical record of the people should they take steps to remove themselves from these results.

I think the anonymization, while not perfect, is enough to be considered ethical.


That's true. I do consider it polite though not to display their names openly on the site. It gives these people a chance to change their preferences and hide from future searches for instance.

Interesting concept... showing courtesy for strangers you find in search results...


I'm willing to bet that APIs will eventually expose searching the text of posts, not just "Likes". Sure, it'll be introduced with examples of better ways to find people with common interests, but inevitably it'll expose even privacy protected posts to bad actors (e.g. Big Brother Police State, Ad companies who pay a premium, etc).

Is anyone willing to argue that in the future it won't be possible to query something like "find recently single women who are bipolar (i.e. frequent dramatic changes of mood/tone in wall status posts), high school dropouts, without a living father, and are easily impressed by nice cars"

The sad thing is that all the data are already in FB databases to answer queries like the above. All that's preventing mining that data is ever changing ToCs and government laws.


The notion that the government doesn't already have access to all that data is absurd. Facebook has shown an eagerness to cooperate with governments and law enforcement in the past and I would be extremely surprised to learn that they're not already selling or giving away data to government for large-scale data mining operations.


This is bad news all around. It is likely a huge percentage of searches performed by people will not enrich lives but most people will use it to mine out insights that others don't wish to be publicized.

Can you imagine people being rounded up in China over this and put into prisons over their "like".


You don't even have to imagine, it's already happened.


Do you have a link with more information?



That's true. Forgot about that case. I guess cases like this will explode in frequency.


Prison? That might not be the worst of it. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kilgour-Matas_report


They don't have Facebook in the Great Firewall of China.

And if they DID, people there wouldn't be liking Falun Gong. It's a bogus example.


> It's a bogus example.

Is it, though? The search mentions a user who liked the Falun Gong branch in [a European city - they could probably anonymise this one a bit more]. I'm guessing there are a fairly large number of people who leave China to study or work, join Facebook while abroad, then return to the PRC at some point.


It's a search for people who have family members in China. Not people in China.


Apple Inc Employees Who Like Android: https://www.facebook.com/search/103818329656399/likers/13794...

People who like Barack Obama and Mitt Romney: https://www.facebook.com/search/6815841748/likers/2139280112...

People who like MPAA and The Pirate Bay: https://www.facebook.com/search/108476252505746/likers/11101...


The semantics of "like", especially in the context where you "like" an organisation, has changed to "follows" or "subscribes to".


I don't know if it's enough, but I just removed nearly any interest that I liked "i.e. removed snowboarding, hip-hop', etc. along with other stuff that's just promotional fluff. I may not be able to avoid the social graph altogether but I'd like to limit the kind of searches I appear in.


Maybe it's just me, but the FB Graph Search intro video seemed to be more of an objective-based searching tool. I (probably stupidly) assumed it could serve as a sidekick to Google search. Forgot that the majority of Facebook users use the default search to find (stalk) other people, and this is just an engine to do it more efficiently. I'm starting to be a bit wary about the monetization potential of FB Graph Search.


I am scared to death of FaceBook and Graph Search is the last straw I am immediately deactivating my account.


Oh by the way, just a reminder, Facebook also creates likes on your behalf to generate engagement.

http://readwrite.com/2012/12/11/why-are-dead-people-liking-s...


Just did the same. I've had enough of being used.


You realize graph search only utilizes information that YOU make available.

Why did you make that data available? Do you not want others to see it? If you didn't, then why did you put it out there for others to see?

Also, you know that privacy controls are taken into account right? So if you don't make certain data available to certain people, you don't show up in searches for those people....

I think you're being a bit irrational when you say that you're "being used".


Yes I do but when I joined facebook I didn't realize they would create a super search engine to easily sort and categorize all of their users' data for more efficient targeted advertising. They sell likes, they have my friends sponsor ads they've never sponsored, they used 5 of my friends pictures to try to manipulate me into not deleting my account. We aren't their main customer but are there just to be targeted. Sounds like we are being used.

This graph search is just the last straw. It is terrifying the repercussions this search engine could have, and I believe this blog post shows some great examples.


So you are arguing that you made something public on facebook, but you didn't expect it to be that public? It looks like people who reject/don't use facebook due to privacy concerns do so because they don't understand the implications of what they put there. Personally, if I were to be concerned about privacy, I'd just make some research to understand what is and isn't public and how to use the product overall, but I suppose one could be pissed off at facebook for not being clearer about who can or could see what you put in there (even though they constantly try to improve this). Either way, the argument "I don't use facebook because I'm concerned about the data they extract from me" is flawed and irrational, because facebook won't know anything you don't explicitly tell to it. I still hear that argument from some people every now and then and I can't help but think that they just don't understand and did not want to make an effort in understanding facebook.


My 'irrational' fear exists because of facebook's constantly changing uses of our data. When they began and we all started liking things we didn't know these same likes would be used for marketing purposes. We didn't know they would be used to sponsor ads. They went from a social network for people to a social network for companies. I agree with you and I do understand that I choose what is public, yes that's great; but how about the average user? Facebook makes money by selling it's users' data to companies. If everyone was private they wouldn't make any money.

This open graph search will be great for marketing purposes, and a silly tool for us users. I guarantee there are going to be some serious consequences of companies/governments having the power to instantly search and sort billion's of users' data. And maybe you'll say that some great findings can come from this search; maybe we can learn more about humans and societies with this tool? Maybe, but I believe the cost outweighs the benefits.


".. why did you put it out there for others to see?"

I've noticed this argument more often w.r.t FB and other such privacy issues. I think it's flawed.

I joined FB back when it was closed. In my mind I wasn't putting anything 'out there' for the world. The first time they made things public and started messing with the default privacy settings I was worried but gave them the benefit of the doubt. Then the cycle repeated with new features and settings, which were altered from their previous states. From that point on I realised they didn't actually care about privacy the way I understand the term and they've gone on to 'open-up' more and more (rather aggressively in my view). What used to be hidden (or at least you thought it was) essentially becomes public at some point in the future.

Had I known this was the direction FB was taking I would have treated it as a public site from the very beginning. Twitter on the other hand was public from the beginning, so my interactions there have been different. I think it's unreasonable to expect that Joe Bloggs out there can get his head around what's public/private on FB. Even if they do there's no telling what might change in the future.

Of course, I could leave FB but then I'd lose touch with people. So now I leave my profile alone, hardly ever 'like' anything and generally try and limit what I do there. I'm sure FB still gleans plenty of info about me from whatever my friends do (i.e tagging photos, connecting address books etc).


And that's why you can unlike what you liked in the past, leave groups, unfriend people, etc. Also, it might still be an unreasonable expectation, but to be honest people do need to understand what is public and what is private on facebook. You don't give away embarrasing pictures of yourself or your bank account information to strangers in the street, so why should it be different online? Facebook, like real life, is not a product that can be used properly without understanding what's public/private. That's not to say the users who don't understand it are to blame; possibly it's just Facebook that has to work harder on this, but still.


It completely blows my mind. I am totally confused as to what Facebook does for people for them to take this stuff on a monthly basis. As for this new search: What happens when people pop up on this search even when they have nothing in common with the question being asked? I really might my family to deactivate for a while at least until this thing is better understood.


Events and photo sharing. No other service has enough of my friends on it to be an event planning service. Email doesn't cut it as there's no collaboration at all (and I don't even have most of their email addresses!).

Then there's photo sharing - back in the day (before multiple photo upload on Myspace) my friend group used a shared Flickr account to share photos, but it was a one way experience - no commenting or interaction.

I'm sure there are plenty of sites which do both those things better (only in the last year or so have we had the option to have reasonable resolution photos on Facebook), but without the user reach I'm not going to use them.

That being said, Facebook amongst people I know feels like Myspace just before Facebook became popular (2007ish). We use it because it's there, but there's a feeling that people are after something better. Especially with their news feed 'algorithm' which completely excludes me from hearing about news from some of my good friends.


I see this as similar to those shady websites that scrape for personal information, then aggregate them. Not the shadiness, but the same principle of gathering information that has already been available, but now simply exposing it in one neat package. And it's very frightening. Can you imagine in a few years where scrapers can take this kind of logic and build databases of people's "online footprints" based on aliases they have used in the past by searching for references to emails they registered with, or mentioned in comments? Add textual analysis of their comments, and all bets are off.


Those "online footprint" type of websites already exist, and they're very popular with due diligence firms.


Do they actually go as far as log aliases and pseudonyms? People often reuse screen names more than they do passwords.


yes, that was exposed a couple of weeks ago. I cannot remember any searchable terms from the post or I would link.


No, as far as I can recall.


The searches depicted are more telling about the person making the search rather than the supposed "victims". Nothing to see here, unless you buy into stereotypical fearmongering or are "shocked" that humans are human.


You don't seem to understand the power information has over people's lives. Have you ever disclosed information to some of your friends that you wouldn't disclose to the general public? What about information that could get you arrested or executed? This is real.


A real dangerous person cannot be so dumb, by definition. This is just sensationalism.


People "who work at technology companies" and "like destroying billions of dollars in FB market capitalization". :)


So it turns out Graph Search is not at all what I thought it was. I thought it would infer information about people that they did not explicitly type in (inferred semantics) to complete my search. In actuality, it looks like a GUI for SQL.


At first glance, it almost seems as if they turned the various segmenting functions in Facebook ads into Graph Search. Except you can now see in much more detail who those people actually are.


Combine the extremely creepy Graph Search and http://readwrite.com/2012/12/11/why-are-dead-people-liking-s... and you've got yourself a pretty interesting situation. The possibilities for ruining people's lives are just endless.


Goodbye Facebook.


Haven't heard that one before...


You need to take a break from your Facebook apologism. It's getting cartoonish.


If you say so.


+1 to that.


I wonder guys working at Facebood don't realize that a service like that may end in their demise? If people begin to understand that the activity they're declaring online can be used against them, or to put it mildly to identify them in ways they might not want, they will stop using the damn site.


If this isn't a good enough reason to GET THE HELL OFF FACEBOOK then you wont be convinced otherwise.

GET THE HELL OFF FACEBOOK!


or simply change your habits online. there's absolutely no need to have "I like to get drunk and party" on your Facebook page if you're worried that people will see that.


Well put CC


I think it's obvious that this is really a way of advertising FB's advertising possibilities, opening it up to the general public is a side-effect of building revenue generation tools.

But FB will definitely have to roll a great deal of this back as this is definitely deeply troubling.


If they don't roll it back then this will simply encourage users to bump up their privacy, or even remove their details from their profiles.


Not sure what would happen in the long term, but at least in the short term, I can see a lot of people start removing their personal data from Facebook when this gets released...


This is a headache to do (could someone build an app to make this easier?) but I'm putting this into my personal task list for next week.


This doesn't change much, the established facebook brand and etiquette is that it's used to communicate with friends. This is also the situation that Mark said they're targeting in his startup talk a few months ago.

It isn't currently a place to reach out or meet new people.

Because of this people will (currently) be hostile to messages from people they don't know. So while you can find interesting things and actually have a search that works now - it probably won't change behavior that much.

It is pretty cool though.


You've always been able to target people like this via their advertising tools. Want to sell the Cookie Diet to single women, 35-45, who like "Dieting" and "Oreo's"?


I don't use facebook myself (have an account, but never touch it) so I'm a bit confused about one thing.

Who would actually, seriously "like" something like Prostitutes or Racism? It seems that fields like that would have literally no serious responses, beyond a bunch of frat boys goofing around.

Or is that the only expectation for searches like this anyway?


I believe a lot of these are when the interests box were free form, and people put all kinds of junk in it - then Facebook converted these fields into structured data and auto liked all these pages.


Personally, I don't doubt that people with questionable shared interests have made contact with one another through FB.

World's a weird place at times. The Internet kind of dilates the portal into those spaces.


This only shows a lot of people take data without context as "truth".

Example: I might work for a charity related to prostitutes. So ofcourse there is a possibility that I "like" something that has to do with prostitutes.

I think lack of context is what's most dangerous these days.


everyone judges.. if potential employees, bullies, potential clients find the guy in something like this there's damage already...


You can find a good collection of related links here: http://giacomoballi.com/2013/01/everything-you-need-to-know-...


There are a lot of nonsensical suggestions

http://codingplayground.blogspot.it/2013/01/facebook-graph-s...


It's a good thing I always used alias' with Facebook.


If they ever catch you at that, they'll delete your account. And they will quiz your friends to find out if your name is real or not: http://www.forbes.com/sites/kashmirhill/2012/09/24/facebook-...


Well, the consumers wanted it, right?

Props to giving the people what they want!

(also for having such wonderful inventory management!)


I didn't ask for it.


The consumers would be those who pay money: i.e. advertisers.


Hence my comment about inventory management. Moooooo.


Are you intentionally being dense? Where is the data that showed "consumers wanted it"?


I don't have it, but I assume you could look for people that "like" the Graph feature on Facebook. :)


That doesn't indicate that a significant number of Facebook users "wanted" it.


answers depend on the accuracy in users profiles. Btw, you can try this simple search in your social circle: http://servletsuite.com/fbdir


I wonder how many of these would be a joke though...


looking at these graph searches, now I finally understand why Zuckerberg called his users "dumb fucks"


Creepy doesn't begin to describe facebook anymore.


Just realized that Graph Search is a great tool to aggregate homosexuals in any area - "Men who live nearby and are interested in men" (or replace "men" with "women"). Great tool for taking homophobia to a whole new level. One can of course argue that liberal groups can use this information for an opposite purpose.


Grindr already exists...


This is sort of a weird assumption to leap too. Would "People who like the page Black People" also be targeted? Would Republicans target people who are marked as "liberal"? Or maybe I'm overly optimistic about homophobic people being either dumb enough or unmotivated enough to do such a thing.

Heh, if anything, I'm more worried about it bringing back a resurgence of random messages from people who found me through the old search which allowed you to search by these characteristics. A less reputable part of me would find it interesting to find other people who share interests with me and are gay in my area... I'm currently in the Midwest with a limited number of dating options.


Finally, a way to find single gay dudes who dig MongoDB... ;-)


And oh.. you want some potential cheating women (or men)? Try "Married women who like Ashley Madison"... ;)


We need to be careful not to read too much into this data without context. "Liking" a fan page used to be a much lighter thing before the FB interest graph became interwoven into other applications & this new search feature.

I used to "like" friends fan pages without much thought, if they asked me to. Re: Ashley Madison, there are married people who work there and will choose to "like" their employer. This represents a small number of users, but is meant to show that there are legitimate use cases.


Not sure if you tried the search string. "More than 100 people" were returned on this and most of them in the top results were indeed employed elsewhere.


Once people start to realize that "liking" something is a fundamentally public act, this should be less of a problem. There's a huge difference between being a person "who likes Ashley Madison" (which I am not) and being a person "who has made a public declaration of liking Ashley Madison" (which I am also not).

Or, to be even more reductive: public declarations are public.


This sorta proves what I have been saying about Graph Search. Its biggest and most prominent use cases will be fancy but useless searches of people. Unfortunately some of those searches will lead to new headaches.


Can't read the entire search phrase on an iPhone. Please consider using text wrapping.




Applications are open for YC Winter 2020

Guidelines | FAQ | Support | API | Security | Lists | Bookmarklet | Legal | Apply to YC | Contact

Search: