back to article Facebook allows full personal data ransack with Graph Search

Stalkers and advertisers will be pleased to know that Facebook is now more searchable than it has ever been, after the social network confirmed that it was in the process of allowing users to dig much deeper into a "friend's" past posts on the free content ad network. The Mark Zuckerberg-run company has been chasing larger ad …


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  1. Suburban Inmate

    One of two outcomes for me

    I disable the searching, or I make a new account that is even more boring and law abiding than my current one. It'll only take a few scandals and they'll wind their bloody necks in, and there's only so much milk they can get from this particular cow.

  2. Squander Two

    Facebook's world-class algorithms.

    I never tire of telling people this.

    Like all men (I assume), Facebook feeds me near-constant "Meet nubile young women with loose morals in your area!" ads. My daughter recently got into the film "Annie" and I happened to mention something about it on Facebook. All those ads instantly disappeared, to be replaced with "Meet muscular hairless young men wearing leggings and leather hats in your area!" People worry about the intrusive omniscience of Facebook's datamining, but, seriously, this is the quality of their algorithms: "Mentioned a musical => must be gay." My three-year-old has more sophisticated logic.

    They have also somehow convinced themselves that I'm a motorcyclist, and have tried to sell me a motorcycle hearse and an amphibious assault vehicle. I have no idea why.

    1. Elmer Phud

      Re: Facebook's world-class algorithms.

      "Like all men (I assume), Facebook feeds me near-constant "Meet nubile young women with loose morals in your area!" ads."

      Nah, mine's locked down tighter than a camel's bum in a sand storm.

      And at my age I really don''t need any nubile women to remind me what my age is.

      Maybe I ought to put more total bollocks in my profile, I can't think of anything there that is real.

    2. Ian McNee

      Ermm... much for the amphibious assualt vehicle? Can't wait to rock up at work with that!

      1. Paul Shirley

        Re: Ermm...

        Dammit, instant flash back to the weekend my wife vetoed buying a DUKW. What's the point living near a river without an amphibious vehicle... still wouldn't convince me to bend over and lube up for Facebook though.

    3. Mike Flugennock

      Re: Facebook's world-class algorithms.

      When I first opened my FB account, I gave it totally bogus info, of course -- fake name (the nom de plume I use on my cartoons), fake birthday, fake place of birth, fake place of residence -- and left things like where I went to school, where I work, and my favorite films/music/books entirely blank.

      FB thinks I'm a thirty-five year-old woman who was born in Cairo and lives in Tripoli. My ad column is full of pitches for fashions and cosmetics, almost entirely in Arabic. Friggin' hilarious.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Facebook's world-class algorithms.

        My FaceBook account has a fictious name - but a deceptive post code of a large building in my town. On the rare occasions I login the adverts advertise "local" services that are at least 50 miles away in any direction.

    4. Gav

      Re: Facebook's world-class algorithms.

      Facebook knows you are gay and into motorbikes. Either you are in denial, or that profile picture of the motorcycle cop from Village People has totally thrown them.

    5. Jaykaykay

      Re: Facebook's world-class algorithms.

      Why don't people use Adblock plus? It will block all these targeted ads, and any other ads for that matter

      1. Squander Two


        You must be mad. Facebook's ads are comedy gold.

        1. chr0m4t1c

          Re: Adblock?

          I use Adblock+, but sometimes I disable it and have a few minutes fun clicking the "hide" button on the ads and then reporting them as "inappropriate" or even better "sexually explicit".

          I'm sure it doesn't make any difference with little ol' me just doing it, but if more people did that FB would become seriously bogged down in investigations.

          One can dream.

      2. TimeMaster T

        Re: Facebook's world-class algorithms.

        Most people are not smart enough to use something like Adblock, or even Flashblock, or NoScript. Clicking on an "Allow scripts from" listing to run the stuff you need from the server your connected to is just too hard for them.

        I haven't seen an ad in ages, and Web pages load really fast, even with a slow connection on my own systems. When I look at the same pages on my work computer I am amazed at the amount of junk/useless animations on them. Glade I'm not the one paying for the bandwidth needed for that Flash animation trying to sell me some cloud service. Haven't had to deal with any virus infections in years as well.

    6. codeusirae

      The future of Facebook ..

    7. Jim 59

      Re: Facebook's world-class algorithms.

      "Mentioned a musical => must be gay."


      Makes you want to try algorithm baiting.

      1. Squander Two

        Re: Facebook's world-class algorithms.

        > Makes you want to try algorithm baiting.

        That is indeed a popular passtime with me and my friends.

        Interestingly, if you make any comments about Islamist terrorists, you get ads for Muslim-only dating sites and marriage-arranging services. I am not making this up.

  3. Not That Andrew

    Shouldn't that be content-free ad network?

  4. Mint Sauce
    Thumb Down

    With each new iteration of the facebook interface..

    .. I find it harder and harder to actually find anything I'm interested in on there. It's like they track you to see what you actually want to see, then automatically replace it with stuff *they* want you to see...

    It's as if they're reliant on serving you crap you don't want.. oh right..

  5. Wibble
    Paris Hilton

    Glad I'm not part of it

    This whole soshal meeja thing will end in tears

  6. JDX Gold badge

    Aside from all the privacy jibber-jabber

    I actually LIKE (no pun) the idea of being able to find information I've actually got access to on FB. It's bloody annoying when I remember someone was talking about something and I can't find it... compare that to gmail where it is incredibly useful to be able to dig up emails in this way.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    When I bought the entire Californication collection and made a comment on FB. I was pushed lots of ads for porn star pages.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    think of the children

    I'm hoping that large social media sites will have their day within the next few years. I have successfully managed to keep my kids away from it up until now but I know its only a question of time before I lose the battle. But as a father, I feel its my responsibility to at least try and protect my kids from avaricious, profit driven public companies attempting to seduce my children into divulging personal information for shareholder's financial gain.

    1. JDX Gold badge

      Re: think of the children

      Your children likely won't even view the issue of privacy in the same way you do, just as young adults today view communications very differently from their parents (young person: I don't feel right without my phone with me. old person: I only turn the phone on if I want to use it).

      Since privacy isn't enshrined as a basic human right (at least I don't think it is, though I am ready to be corrected) it's not possible to say "the old way is best" objectively.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: think of the children


        Not so sure about the next generations attitude to privacy, at least if my otherwise normal, social 14 year-old niece is anything to go by. She seems to instinctively get the privacy knock on of the new stuff like twitter, FB etc etc beginning to enter the lives of her and her friends; while she likes twitter for casual chat and to get information, she seems completely disinterested in Facebook beyond asking why people bother. She spends a lot of time messaging and emailing friends on her ipad, but gets irritated quickly with large group messaging chats, and is wary of clicking of links in mail. She's very wary of the teenage habit of handing out photos of herself in stupid poses or pulling funny faces etc, pointing out to me a year or so ago the potential downsides of doing so.

        The thing is, she's never really been told in anything other than casual terms to watch this or that by her parents or me, and she gregarious is and certainly not a loner or social outcast, so it seems she learned by observation. My other niece is quite the opposite and probably an advertisers wet dream, but even she's starting to work out restraint for herself - better now than when she's in a position to really make an arsehole of herself in a way that has long term effects for her future.

        I think maybe too much is made of those (perhaps few?) of the next generation who seem to dole out the data hand over fist; treating them as representative is perhaps not entirely fair to those who aren't taken in. There is something of a push by the admen and data pimps like Zuckerberg to create 'facts on the ground' by inference that don't really hold water. Privacy may not be a human right yet, but in western societies at least it is an instinct with limits most understand. Most of those who exploit privacy laxity for gain do so with the minimum possible noise, and are currently ahead of the curve of user understanding - the assault on privacy is pretty new really - but that will change a great deal I think when there is a more widespread public understanding that personal data has a value far beyond the trinkets currently handed out for giving it up.

        The next generation may not be as absolutist as ours on privacy, but I think they will understand far better the value of data and the benefits of not selling cheap.

        1. Pascal Monett Silver badge

          Re: The next generation may not be as absolutist as ours on privacy

          If our generation had been "absolutist" on privacy, Facebook would never have gotten off the ground.

          And I don't see that we'd be missing anything.

  9. rpungin

    The graph search still does not let you search for your photo albums by name. You can currently do that as well as search for photos by caption, events, videos, statuses, notes, checkins, links and more on the go by using Search For Posts iPhone app:

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