If you haven’t gotten the beta invite, don’t worry, it’s coming. Facebook’s Graph Search function is everything a marketer (or knife-wielding stalker) could hope for.
If you haven’t been paying attention, here’s what all the hubub’s about: Facebook is releasing a search query functionality more robust than anything the casual user has had access to use in the past. You can start with a simple search string like, “People who like Nickelback” and then refine down by gender, marital status, age group, geolocation, religion and other associated like. So your simple query can now drill down to a list of all 40-year-old women in Longmont who are married and like Nickelback AND Creed (you know, in case your ChristianSingles profile isn’t quite doing the job).
Now, while that may sound innocuous enough, the Law of Unintended Consequences dictates that the potential for Fukushima-level fallout means you really need to think about how this one may impact you personally.
You need look no further than the Tumblr blog: actualfacebookgraphsearches.tumblr.com for evidence of what I’m talking about. Searches like, “Married people who like Prostitutes,” “Current employers of people who like Racism,” “Mothers of Catholics from Italy who like Durex” and “People who like Focus on the Family and Neil Patrick Harris” all yield pretty eye-opening results (My personal favorite: “Mothers of Jews who like Bacon”).
And while those might just elicit a couple of chuckles, eyebrow raises and self-satisfied judgment of other people’s hypocrisy, it can also lead to consequences including losing your job, your marriage and, depending on where you live, even death.
I’m not being hyperbolic here. Take this search string, “Men who are interested in men and live in Tehran,” a place where homosexuality is an offense punishable by execution. Remember the story about Malala, the Pakistani girl who was shot by the Taliban for wanting to go to college?
The search “Women who like Education and live in Pakistan” yields hundreds of results.
Suddenly, simply clicking the “like” button becomes an act of life and death. But even if that’s not close enough to home for you, these searches also provide hundreds, if not thousands of results:
“Current Hobby Lobby employees who like Gay Rights.”
“Current employees of DISH who like Comcast.”
“Married men who like Ashley Madison.com.”
“Current employees of Microsoft who like Apple Inc.”
Does your company do drug testing? More than half a million people like the “420 smokers club” page. And on and on. The list is only inhibited by your imagination.
In other words, if you haven’t spent time cleaning your Facebook page list of likes and interests, now’s really the time to do so. Go over your privacy settings with a fine-toothed comb and decide whether or not the political or ideological stand you’re taking on your Facebook page is worth losing your job over, or worse…