Saturday, January 19, 2013

EFF's creepy Facebook Graph Search user stories

After reading EFF's article, The Creepy Details of Facebook's New Graph Search, it made me think about how users are creative in coming up with their own use cases for any product.

EFF points out that the search can be used by marketers to target advertisements or find out socially awkward facts from your friends.  And this discoverability is creepy because it was not easy to do earlier.  Nowhere would the information be so easy to find for people, and Facebook users need to re-evaluate their Facebook usage.

Wouldn't it be awkward to show if anyone shows up on this search?
Think twice before you 'like' something.
While I agree with EFF's observation of potential abuse, I think that the discoverability of information is going to get even easier, and people will learn how to cope with this easy discoverability.  People will adapt to the new norm.

Once users realize that their 'likes' can be discovered by their friends whom they did not intend to share, they will refrain from 'liking' anything new or go even so far to remove their 'likes'.  What Facebook is banking on is that there are a large enough user population with relaxed privacy threshold.  Enough of the users who don't mind sharing their preferences to the public.

Discoverability of information will increase, and it will continue to increase even faster.  Facebook is not the only company.  Google, LinkedIn, and Microsoft are all working on making information easier to discover.  And I see this trend continuing because of all the connected devices that can share data through API. 

So this really means one thing.  Users need to be aware of handling digital information.

If you post your update on Facebook, it's like publishing your post on newspaper.  Once it's out, it's out there forever.  Think twice before you click that 'like' button.

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