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Facebook's Graph Search: Kiss Your Privacy Goodbye 245

Nerval's Lobster writes "Software developer Jeff Cogswell is back with an extensive under-the-hood breakdown of Facebook's Graph Search, trying to see if peoples' privacy concerns about the social network's search engine are entirely justified. His conclusion? 'Some of the news articles I've read talk about how Graph Search will start small and slowly grow as it accumulates more information. This is wrong—Graph Search has been accumulating information since the day Facebook opened and the first connections were made in the internal graph structure,' he writes. 'People were nervous about Google storing their history, but it pales in comparison to the information Facebook already has on you, me, and roughly a billion other people.' There's much more at the link, including a handy breakdown of graph theory."
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Facebook's Graph Search: Kiss Your Privacy Goodbye

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  • Re:Yeah, right (Score:4, Interesting)

    by kheldan ( 1460303 ) on Thursday February 07, 2013 @03:36PM (#42823271) Journal
    Every day that I read a news story about how more and more of people's privacy on Facebook is being violated as they monetize that data more and more, the happier I am that I bailed out when I did.
  • Re:Yeah, right (Score:4, Interesting)

    by hawguy ( 1600213 ) on Thursday February 07, 2013 @04:10PM (#42823705)


    My use of facebook is as follows:

    Register account, to keep someone else from using my name (it happens, I've had internet stalkers for over a decade that have done things like register domains, show up at my door, etc).

    Disable everything that it's possible to disable. Set to notify me by email of private messages, just in case. Disable ability to tag me in photos, post on my wall, etc, etc.

    Put up a user photo on account that says "I DO NOT USE FB. SEND ME AN EMAIL AT >email addy".

    Never touch Facebook again.

    How does this keep your mythical decade long stalkers from setting up a Facebook profile with your name? My name is not all that common, but there are dozens of people on Facebook with my name -- including 1 in the same town as me.

    If you never touch Facebook again, how will you know about your stalkers profile? And what would he do with this fake profile anyway?

  • Re:Yeah, right (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 07, 2013 @04:46PM (#42824171)

    Absolutely! I am not active on Facebook. I talked to a brother in Chicago and a friend in Louisiana. I have never logged into Facebook from an ip address that would geo locate me to my home state. Mobile ip, proxies or tor (or combinations of the three). And always from a Linux live cd, so no cookies from anywhere else.

    Social media is blocked at my home and work, I can't accidentally login. Nothing in my login history says I live where I do. It says the opposite. Yes, I have an overly paranoid account.

    One day I turned off my ad blocking software and found quite a few personalized ads for my location, and it confused me quite a bit. How? When i did that a year before, Facebook thought I lived across the country and frequently traveled.

    My best explanation is that I gave the friend in LA my phone number (in person) and when she added it to her contact book, a Facebook sync confirmed my number as matching me. She possibly added my real birthdate and more.I put that data into any form and it now matches that account. So although I have never given Facebook any more useful data than my (very common) name, they now have enough info to match me on anything in real databases.

    As someone who has tried their hardest to fudge databases with false info, there is no use. They will get the data some other way and then fill in the rest. As it has been mentioned before, even if you don't have an account you will have a ghost profile in the database if your name is in someone else's contact book. A fake name does nothing if 20 of your friends or relatives list you as your real name in their contact books and they sync.

  • Re:So? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by sphealey ( 2855 ) on Thursday February 07, 2013 @08:04PM (#42827121)

    = = = More to the point, privacy is an illusion we create to hide us from ourselves. If you really want "privacy" then go hide in a cave all by yourself. If you want to keep secrets, don't tell anyone else. The moment you tell someone something you've lost control of that information. The internet just makes it easier to lose control of information. = = =

    Try using your small business account to order up a Choicepoint profile of one Richard Cheney and see how far that theory takes you. If privacy is such an unimportant illusion why does every high-ranking corporate and government official have access to their records not only blocked but set up for immediate counterattack on access?


  • Re:Yeah, right (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday February 08, 2013 @03:27AM (#42829665)

    I'm the AC you're responding to. Thank you for reading. As an AC I always assume the things I post get buried and are never read.


    Click on that link, that's your facebook phonebook.


    Guardian article talks about exactly this.

    Facebook is the only site I visit through that "uber proxy" (all 7 of them). The only other sites that I visit before facebook are mozilla privacy plugins and... a geo ip site.

    This isn't really that hard to understand. I can hide my ip or ditch cookies, change my browser fingerprint, block every tracking method I can think of. But what's the point? The area code from my telephone number gave away my location. That simple.

      What is your problem with this? Don't you know that every background check company on the internet has been doing this on a smaller scale for about 15 years? They match names to email address and cross reference with DOB, if it checks out, it gets put in the list of confirmed identities. They add public records data that matches with that. The information they had was always taken from cookies you received doing surveys or shopping websites when you bought something. Or in some cases just the stuff you looked at. Somewhat reliable, but sometimes not. Either way, lots of junk data. And people figured out how to avoid the data collection by these companies.

    Think of facebook's userbase as doing the exact same thing. They log in and update the "background check" database for themselves and everyone they know.

    All I did was offer a personal anecdote as an example of something that facebook is known to do. I didn't invent a facebook bogeyman, and I did not link them to a three letter agency like some other posters. Everything I have said could be backed up by RTFA or others posted on slashdot. The worst conclusion you can come to from reading my post is that Facebook saves every bit of data given to it and cross checks it. Supposedly to help you find friends, but quite possibly to fluff out your profile and target ads.

"This is lemma 1.1. We start a new chapter so the numbers all go back to one." -- Prof. Seager, C&O 351