Facebook’s Graph Search has inherent privacy issues we’ve more than explored since its launch. And while we all stand to be embarrassed by the new Facebook functionality, how Graph Search impacts minors is another thing altogether and presents entirely different issues. Today, Facebook addressed this issue and revealed in a blog post that Graph Search makes an exception for its users between the ages of 13 and 17, rounding these users up in their own Graph Search group that works a little differently.
Teen users by default can only share their status update friends of friends. They’re unable to upgrade to the “public” status option at least until they’ve hit their 18th birthday. So how does this affect Graph Search?
If you used Graph Search, you may have noticed results you got were limited to those from users who were over the age of 17. And today Facebook revealed why: Any search results that would reveal a young person’s age (between 13 and 17 years old) or their location are restricted to these minor’s friends or friends of friends who are also between the ages of 13 and 17. So with Graph Search, there’s a child protection measure built into the app to stymie any chances that anyone classified by Facebook as “adults” can see a minor’s content surfaced in Graph Search. And in case you were wondering, only friends or friends of friends are able to view a minor in Graph Search since it doesn’t take much effort for a predatory adult to just throw together a new fake Facebook profile that impersonates a 13 year old.
At the same time, we all know how naïve children can be. An adult can impersonate a minor’s friend and attempt to friend them by claiming to have created a new profile page because their old profile page was hacked. If successful, this of course would mean that the adult would have access to that minor’s Facebook friends in Graph Search since they’d now be considered Friends of Friends.
What information is revealed to bystanders about you may not always transparent, but at the end of the day it’s up to the user to protect themselves since Facebook or any other social network for that matter isn’t really going to care about your privacy, unless that company is facing a class action lawsuit.
Users should be cognizant of the types of content being published online, and while adults might not be able to find a teen’s info via Graph Search, his or her classmates still can. And let’s face it, high school can be rough, so consider this a heads up to anyone in that age group who hasn’t combed over their Likes in awhile.