Facebook’s Graph Search – will people who don’t work in advertising now realise what their data is worth?

Julian PetersonThanks to the launch of Graph Search, Facebook is now making it even easier to find information about ordinary Australians, including those in security-sensitive jobs. Julian Peterson was surprised by what he found.

In the digital advertising business we know the value of data – we obsessively target and track our intended audience and our thirst for new data knows no limits.

Some of the public know the value of their data and don’t want us to have it – they browse incognito, they lock their social profiles or they don’t use social media at all, they delete their cookies and don’t like to have tabs kept on them.

I have seen a few articles recently where the worth of people’s data has been quantified or they’ve been put on notice to keep it secret – and The Financial Times actually shows you what you’re worth.

Yesterday I finally found Graph Search activated on my Facebook – I’d seen the funny examples by Tom Scott some time ago on his “Actual Facebook Graph Searches” but I hadn’t had the chance to try it for myself until today.

Below is my journey into the frankly amazing Graph Search which confirms a few things:

  1. Facebook has so much data on people, their friends and social connections, activities, places they visit and things they do.
  2. The data has more depth and breadth than anyone else’s data in the whole world. Never before have people so eagerly recorded so much about themselves.
  3. The data held by most other organisations, even the tax office and government departments including census data, is nothing compared to this.
  4. Facebook have given us a glimpse with Graph Search but we’ve barely begun to see what is possible.
  5. If there is a negative effect of Graph Search for advertising then it would be that it reveals to the man in the street the extent of the data provided by Facebook users and the amount of it that is publicly available, let alone to Facebook itself.

My first Graph Search session:

So after a couple of searches to see who I work with, used to work or go to school with I tried this:

A few people I knew matched but it was mainly around a page called “Sex and drugs and rock ‘n’ roll” which has thousands of fans, so not as funny as I’d hoped.

By now I was chat-bantering with a friend in London who is divorced and wanted to get out on the town this week as her kids are away. Whilst trying to find a silly search that would include her I had this one auto-completed for me:
women uk sex workers

Interesting. I don’t even have any link to any of the people in the results so now I thought, let’s try some more searches to see how much data people have inadvertently shared.

A lot:

single female police officers
And:

facebook single male police
Some other suggested searches if you want to find a transvestite policewoman, a policeman from the Maldives in Sydney or want to find single friends of policemen (watch out RSVP – Facebook dating has arrived!):

single male police sydney

Where there’s social media, there’s Defence:

facebook single soldiers

And let’s get serious:

facebook asio singles

(I actually think most of these girls are joking, as are the guys in the male search)

 You can also find the answer to important questions:

liberal boat

But to be fair:

australia labor board facebook

Julian Peterson is Sales & Marketing Director for dianomi

Comments


  1. Brendon
    24 Jul 13
    10:00 am

  2. Would it be fair to say, that you’re only seeing these results because people do not take enough time to learn about the privacy settings on Facebook? If you spend 20 minutes going through your privacy settings instead of sharing your lunch pics…alone…you probably wouldn’t have your results showing in a graph search :)

  3. Go on I dare ya - steal my data - double dare ya
    24 Jul 13
    3:29 pm

  4. I work in PR so naturally i’m always checking my privacy and security settings. However I’ve been a victim of tax fraud and I can’t figure out how. Maybe i’m just unlucky.

    In saying all this I predict more and more Mum and Dad digital media consumers will be caught up in cases where they have had their identity stolen.

    It begs the Q: Who is to blame for data breaches? the consumer, the corporation or our government or the organized criminal groups?

    In the end I thought I was safe but my experience just goes to show that if anyone wants data on you they can get it, if they know how and can be bothered.

    So go ahead, do take my data make it a bloody hassle for me to fix the mess you’ve created, oh and by the way you’ve got the wrong ‘me’ as I blow my budget each week have a massive HECS debt…. than again come to think of it what I own in assets you couldn’t sell to cash converters to make enough money to get a 1 way ticket out of Australia back to Eastern Europe, Nigeria etc.

  5. Social Ekho
    30 Jul 13
    9:19 am

  6. Great article. Very humorous. Brendon is right but when Facebook keeps making changes to privacy settings people tend to forget to update them.