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Facebook's Graph Search Is a Privacy Test For Internet Users 104

An anonymous reader writes "An article in the NY Times makes the case that Graph Search, Facebook's recently unveiled social search utility, will be a test for users of the social networking site which will have consequences for the internet at large. The test will show whether people are willing to take the next step in sharing parts of their lives, and whether social search is the future for online interaction. '...the company engineers who created the tool — former Google employees — say that the project will not reach its full potential if Facebook data is "sparse," as they call it. But the company is confident people will share more data, be it the movies they watch, the dentists they trust or the meals that make their mouths water.' CompSci professor Oren Etzioni says it's a watershed moment for the social internet because of the scale at which Facebook operates. A decade ago, people began making the choice to share their lives online; buying into social search would be the biggest step since then. A related post by the Electronic Frontier Foundation can be summed up with this single line: 'If you walk down a crowded public street, you are probably seen by dozens of people—but it would still feel creepy for anyone to be able to look up a list of every road you've walked down.'"
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Facebook's Graph Search Is a Privacy Test For Internet Users

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  • Hmm (Score:5, Interesting)

    by koan ( 80826 ) on Saturday January 19, 2013 @05:02PM (#42635257)

    What about those of us that do not want to participate in these things? At what point will it become awkward to say state I don't use Facebook, or will it just become some terrible social stigma ::whisper::"He doesn't have a social account.."::/whisper::

  • by rueger ( 210566 ) * on Saturday January 19, 2013 @06:48PM (#42635685) Homepage
    Well, perhaps not.

    Arguably "privacy" does not mean what it might have forty years ago. Some of that is related directly to the way that Internet technology can retain data, and the ways that that data can be searched and manipulated.

    That is something to be watched, and I've found myself more and more cautious about what I post on-line, but it's also a lot of what makes the modern Internet so damned useful.

    I like it that Google usually can guess what I need. I like it that Amazon can suggest books or music that I actually would like to buy. I like that my smartphone is such a phenomenally handy tool, one that I use many times each day, and that would be nowhere near as useful without the might of Google behind it.

    Hell, I like that I'm automagically logged into Slashdot every time I open up the site in my browser. It's handy.

    Still, despite all of this, I do find Facebook's latest "creep" to be a bit uncomfortable. And yes, I'm one of those people who trusts Google, but who somehow don't trust Facebook. Hence the vast difference between what I'll trust to my Gmail account, and what I'll post to Facebook.

    Still, despite the above, you have to accept that people's definition of "privacy" has changed. When I was growing up every house had an album full of photographs. If you came to visit our house we might show it to you, or we might not.

    Now I have relatives who have literally thousands upon thousands of baby pictures, kid pictures, family pictures, videos, and God knows what else all posted to Facebook and accessible to hundreds of people. By their standards this is normal, and OK.

    Instead of foaming at the mouth, or shrieking that no-one should ever be part of Facebook!!!, we should be figuring out how to manage a reasonable level of privacy in an age that will include Google, and Facebook, and all of those other fun and useful sites that we love.

    ps - I can recall, back in the seventies and eighties, knowing people who refused to own a telephone - their arguments sounded pretty much the same.

Thus spake the master programmer: "Time for you to leave." -- Geoffrey James, "The Tao of Programming"