• Online Reputation Mangement Implications for Facebook Graph Search

    New Facebook Graph Search Impact On Online Reputations, Privacy, Social Media

    Facebook Chairman and Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg introduces Graph Search features during a presentation Jan. 15, 2013 in Menlo Park. Facebook announced a search function that works within the website and allows users to search content that people have shared with you or is public. (Stephen Lam/Getty Images)

    Facebook’s new upcoming feature, “Graph Search,” essentially an internal search engine, could have a huge impact on online reputations as well as privacy and social media usage.

    It could expose things never indented to be reveled to employees, friends, family members—and strangers.

    What is Facebook Graph Search?

    “Graph Search,” is a search engine that mines Facebook connections rather than the web.  It provides personalized answers to quires drawing from people, photos, places and interests.

    Basically, Facebook’s search will be like asking all your friends a question.  It goes beyond that however, because it includes information from people you’ve never met, depending on your friends, what they make public, and their privacy settings.

    For example, a search could be made using phrases like:

    • My friends inNew Yorkwho work in social media
    • Who inChicagorecommends deep dish pizza
    • Photos of Disney employees

    Facebook, with nearly a billion members, is looking to add new profit-making features.  In doing so, Facebook is attempting to compete against Google by creating its own search engine.

    How well Graph Search will work depends not only on Facebook’s execution, but on how much information friends make public on the site.   As a result, it’s even more crucial that Facebook regain public trust going forward since the more information people make private, the less worthwhile the search results will be.

    What are the Implications of Graph Search and Online Reputations?

    A big implication in Graph Search is how it will impact online reputations. Unintended information could now show up in a search result, exposing information to complete strangers.

    For example, what if an employer searches for, “Karaoke bars inNew YorkEastVillage,” and a photo of a drunk employee shows up?  This embarrassing photo, intended as a fun post, could lead to a serious results, such as a firing.  Or what if a client searches for “bankruptcy recommendationsHouston,” and sees a comment made by their lawyer—and realizes they were in bankruptcy.  As a result, the client drops the lawyer.  What if searching for, “Who inChicagorecommends deep dish pizza,” and a spouse sees a recommendation by their wife, but they were supposed to be inNew Yorkat the time.  An affair could have been exposed.

    Exposing Private information to Friends and Strangers on Facebook

    As a result, people will be exposing huge amounts of information to friends and strangers through Graph Search.

    The information could be beyond just embarrassing, however, and could revel business connections, social and lifestyle preferences, and other personal information.  Discussions, news events, connections, photos, “Likes”—all originally intended to be private exchanges between know friends could be made available to people all over Facebook.

    Controlling an online reputation would become even more important with the new Facebook feature, and extreme care and caution should be used when posting items going forward because they could end up on being viewed by people outside your friends.

    Also, many might regret uploading information years ago while in college thinking it would be seen only by friends, and now might need to attempt to remove damaging photos or other information before it spreads.

    This could lead to a drastic shift in Facebook usage and might alienate users.


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