Thanks to a tipster, we recently noticed that the “Search” tab under the Activity log was missing. This tool surfaced your past Graph Searches and helped you delete them – after all, there’s nothing sadder than a record of “Singles who live near me who like cats and cheese tasting” being tied to you. We pointed out the issue to Facebook yesterday, since forums were quickly filling up with concerned users who wanted to know how to delete their searches. The earliest assumption was that Facebook would no longer allow you to delete this data, and it wouldn’t be viewable to you. But after getting feedback from the social network, we learned it was a simple bug which has since been patched and the “Search” tab is back in your Activity Log where it belongs.
There was some momentary user uproar over the missing tab, which is expecting considering how much data Graph Search can amass – and how badly we probably want to delete what we’re using it to look for.
Those concerns were legitimate: Say that Facebook decides in the near future that what you search for will affect how you show up in your friends’ search results. If you’re a purveyor of guns and use Graph Search to look for gun-related pages or other enthusiasts, you’d have a greater chance of showing up at the top of results for anything that has to do with guns. The employer you’re interviewing with for whatever reason is searching for “friends who enjoy guns” and comes across your name and includes “friends-of-friends” in the search. While you might not be a direct friend with the HR person, you could have common friend through a colleague. Could that affect your chances of being hired? Maybe, maybe not, but it’s unnerving isn’t it?
For the time being, fortunately, we’re talking in hypotheticals. We’ve double checked to make sure, and sure enough “Search” is back. But if it ever goes away … you might want to keep up on deleted everything under this tab.
We’ve also noticed something else. Whether or not Facebook’s Graph Search was broken after some tinkering around with the search engine during the last week, we recognized that that Graph Search results were omitting Web search results. In fact Web searches weren’t functioning in the first place. What we did end up seeing were results that kept users inside of Facebook. Curiously we noticed that by typing “fashion,” “technology,” and “marketer” for example, flashes of Web only searches showed up and were immediately replaced with Facebook-only results.
We reached out to Facebook about this issue as well and shortly thereafter Graph Search was back to its old self. Could we have gotten a glimpse of a new Graph Search backend? It’s possible. After all, Facebook doesn’t want to have to send anyone outside of Facebook. Keeping users inside of Facebook means higher engagement, time spent, and higher ad revenue.