Facebook is making new revelations about government orders for user data.(Photo: Karen Bleier, AFP/Getty Images)
has now turned on Graph Search for all of its English-speaking members
in the U.S. The idea behind it is to give you a way to mine the massive
social network for information that's most personally relevant to you.
For example, I've used it to find a new running buddy near my home in
Oakland, Calif., and to find the perfect person to recommend for a new job.
general, Graph Search has exciting potential to be your very own
version of Google, Yelp, and LinkedIn all rolled into one. Not
surprising - since it's still a newborn, barely-out-of-beta-baby - it's
just not there yet and there will be growing pains.
So far, the
most popular uses of Graph Search have been for people looking up photos
of themselves or trying to find a hot date. It's also made for some
interesting hijinks for people in search of the next big Facebook Fail.
And there's been a whole lot of fuss about how it supposedly lets
friends, frenemies, even creepy stalkers peep in through your privacy
settings and dredge up all kinds of things that could really embarrass
The truth is no one can see anything about you now that they
couldn't already see. Facebook shows you how to control what you share
and with whom, right down to exactly what types of things you share with
specific people. But there's no doubt it can be jarring to see just how
and what now appears in Graph Search results, like a photo of you in a
bikini that a bestie might have tagged you in on your girlfriend
Here are some simple tips to control your content, manage your privacy, and turn Graph Search into a useful tool for you:
TAKE A TEST RUN
by going into the Graph Search box at the top of your Facebook page and
typing in your own name and the word "photos." You should see all the
photos that you've posted and all the photos you've been tagged in. Do
the same test run with your name and the word "likes" or "posts."
you've been on Facebook since college, there's a good chance you'll see
something that could make you cringe some day. Yes, it was funny then ...
but forgetting to unlike or untag yourself from something that could be
misconstrued now could be a little embarrassing, or worse, if stumbled
upon by a prospective employer or future parents-in-law. We'll get back
to how to deal with all of this in a second, after a side trip to your
REVIEW YOUR PRIVACY SETTINGS
on your home screen, there's a little lock symbol. Click that and it
will take you right to your privacy shortcuts. Click on the expanded
view and go through it all one by one.
I set my default
preferences to Friends only. You can go back in and expand it to Friends
of Friends or Public later, after you've gotten more used to
controlling what you want the world to be able to look up in connection
with your name. You can also set up custom privacy controls on your
mobile devices and any apps you might use to post to Facebook as well.
MAKE ACTIVITY LOG YOUR NEW BEST FRIEND
Activity Log is like one large online scrap book.You might be shocked
to see that you've been tagged in a drunken party photo from long, long
ago. The same goes for what you've posted, posts you're tagged in,
likes, comments, and more. If there's anything that you wouldn't want to
see on a giant billboard outside your house, church or school, un-tag
yourself and hide it from your timeline.
doesn't mean it goes away. It could still live on your friends or
frenemies Facebook pages. So send them a message asking them to make it
private. If all else fails, you can report it to Facebook.
TAKE ADVANTAGE OF FACEBOOK'S HELP CENTER
of Graph Search right now or not, think of the many instructions you
can find through the Help Center like learning any new hobby. Set aside
the time, go through each instruction one-by-one, and allow for a few
mistakes at first.
Jennifer Jolly is an Emmy Award-winning consumer tech contributor and host of USA TODAY's digital video show TECH NOW. E-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter: @JenniferJolly.
Jennifer Jolly, Special for USA TODAY