By Heather Goldin, Staff Writer
On Jan. 15, Mark Zuckerberg announced a new feature that goes far beyond the introduction of a Timeline or Newsfeed. The new feature, Graph Search, is a potential rival for competitors such as Google or even the typical online dating site such as eHarmony or Match.com.
Graph Search gives the user the option of sorting through pictures, places, people, and other interests. Graph Search also specializes in the ability to search with natural language, or a style that people use in everyday conversation. Examples include phrases like “the best coffee houses in downtown Boston” or “people in my city who enjoy rollerblading.” As if this new feature didn’t sound interesting enough, phrases such as “single men from California who attend Boston University” can also be searched, resulting in a long list of Facebook users who fit the search parameters.
Crazy? Yes. Creepy? Possibly. I think it could be used like a free version of online dating without the long sign-ups and required information. Facebook doesn’t need that information because you already put it on your Timeline.
Online dating is popular, which makes Zuckerberg’s interest understandable despite his statements from the founding of Facebook that the site would avoid being branded as an online dating site. It would definitely be a way to keep Facebook users online longer and away from other sites. More Facebook time is what Zuckerberg needs from users with the lack of growth in adding friends recently. The Facebook Team hopes that with Graph Search, users will be more drawn to adding friends faster, a necessary variable of Facebook’s functionality.
For now, the Graph Search is not yet a threat to other search engines, since it’s still in its beginning stages. Currently, the possibilities of Graph Search are extremely limited and only available in English. In addition, Facebook is the only site Graph Search uses to function, which limits its resources as a search engine. Since it uses user’s “likes” to provide answers for searches, it might not be up to date. Users are bound to have liked something in the past that they no longer like, or to keep activities that they no longer participate in posted on their timeline.
On one hand, Facebook’s new feature appears harmless to bigger sites, but if the loyal users of Facebook jump on board with the new feature they will soon be spending more time on Facebook to update those outdated interests and likes. When Graph Search finally makes its debut, maybe think twice about allowing Graph Search to have access to your data. If you do, remember to update your likes. Otherwise you might end up with a friend request based on a common interest in that band you liked in middle school.
By Heather Goldin, Staff Writer
Ok, social network world, it’s time to straighten some things out. You are scrolling through the homepage when suddenly three consecutive friends have the same bogus status update declaring their Facebook content unavailable for commercial use. Tone down your ego and your panicking, Facebook isn’t going to try and own your stuff just because they make a few policy changes. Admittedly, I might have almost fell for this scam myself (almost). In case you’re still unsure of what is truth and what is web hoax, I have debunked some of the most common myths for you.
Myth 1: Because Facebook is now a public company I need to post a written message on my wall verifying that I own all the content I post.
Fact 1: You will always be the owner of the content you post to Facebook, but you essentially lease it to the company when you sign up. Giving written protection through a status will do nothing because by having an account, you have agreed to let the company use what you post for commercial purposes. This is all stated in the terms of service agreement. If you ever find the time to read through these, try to decipher the legal jargon because we all know you didn’t when you signed up.
Myth 2: It is impossible to keep my content from being used for commercial purposes.
Fact 2: Let me introduce you to a little concept called privacy settings. Under this handy Facebook tab, you can control what information the applications you sign up for can view and use. Granted, you won’t be able to use some of the applications if you don’t want to share the required information. However, you have more control over who can view your Facebook activity or personal information. You can also set your profile to private, which means that most of your content won’t be visible unless you friend someone or give an app permission to use your information.
Myth 3: Facebook will take away my (recently discovered) ability to vote on policy changes.
Fact 3: There is some truth to this one, but the rest I need to clear up. Although it is true that Facebook is taking away the right of Facebook user’s suffrage, the right to vote on policy change hasn’t been exercised largely in the history of the vote since it’s introduction in 2009. The proposal is to supposedly create a better feedback system for policy change. In short, you have until 9 a.m. PST on Nov. 28 to comment on the proposed changes, and following the commenting period there will be a live chat with Erin Egan, the Chief Privacy Officer of Policy for Facebook, who will respond to questions and comments about the proposed policy. For more details, check out the Facebook Site Governance Page.
Check out College Humor’s funny and informative video on Facebook law for idiots.
Hopefully this information clears things up a bit. And remember kids, don’t believe everything you read on the Internet.