Privacy Blog

"Friends don’t let friends get spied on.' – Richard Stallman, President of the Free Software Foundation and longtime advocate of privacy in technology.

Facebook Quietly Changes Search Tool Used by Investigators, Abused by Companies

Facebook’s Graph Search allowed anyone to search a wealth of public data on Facebook in very specific ways, such as searching content for keywords in a particular point in time.

Late last week, Facebook quietly made changes to a set of advanced features that previously allowed users to search the social network in powerful ways, such as finding all posts on Facebook by a keyword and within a certain date range, all of the people who like a certain Facebook Page and live in a particular city, or places visited by two specific users.

All of the information gathered by these search features is from user’s public profiles, but the news highlights Facebook’s recent emphasis on privacy, and comes after a series of privacy and security incidents at the company. The features have been abused to lookup information on Facebook users en masse, but they are also of immense help to investigators who use them to uncover social media evidence of, for example, airstrikes in Yemen.

Details may be found in an article by Joseph Cox in the “Tech by Vice” section of the Motherboard web site at: https://www.vice.com/en_us/article/zmpgmx/facebook-stops-graph-search.

Categories: Online Privacy & Security

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