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Facebook’s New Search Function Presents Privacy Risks

Last week, Facebook announced that it has improved its search functionality indexing 2 trillion posts. This new feature was designed to combat Google’s core functionality as a search engine and also challenge Twitter’s new Moments feature, which allows users to view the news in a succinct and simple manner.

Tom Stocky, Facebook’s Vice President of Search, announced the update and detailed, “when you search, you’ll now see the most recent, relevant public posts along with posts from your friends. Search results are organized to help you cut through the noise and quickly understand what the world is saying about a topic in the moment. You also can pull-to-refresh and see the latest public posts.”

Search results are all personalized and unique, which demonstrates the complexity of the search algorithm that Facebook is using. This algorithm is likely to be using a variety of different systems to place emphasis on different aspects of individuals’ networks, adjusting from person to person.

The new functionality gives users the ability to search for topics and potentially view any post that was created publicly since Facebook was developed. This presents a huge risk for privacy, as searches will allow old content that was initially posted as public to be resurfaced. Users have the ability to change the privacy settings of all historic posts to “Private”, but this setting is difficult to find as it is embedded deep in Facebook privacy settings.

Facebook’s new search function expands the network of people that each user is exposed to, and it is interesting to note how this will allow people to interact with others through public posts in a more refined way.



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October 2015