There Is No Opting Out of Facebook’s Graph Search

Besides empty threats to quit, of course.

gs2In the deluge of posts generated by Facebook’s impeccably-orchestrated “graph search” announcement, one teency little tidbit got obscured. Zuck’s potential advertising “goldmine” has no opt-out button. In fact, Quartz reports that Facebook made sure of that about a month before its big reveal.

On December 11, 2012, the following changes went into effect on Facebook’s privacy policy:

“When you hide things on your timeline, like posts or connections, it means those things will not appear on your timeline. But, remember, anyone in the audience of those posts or who can see a connection may still see it elsewhere, like on someone else’s timeline or in search results. You can also delete or change the audience of content you post.”

Back then, Facebook product director Sam Lessin–a Brooklyn entrepreneur acqui-hired out to Menlo Park–said a mere “a single-digit percentage of users” (roughly 10 million people) had opted out of appearing in search results on Facebook. Of course, at the time graph search was just a glint in Zuck’s eye, so users didn’t entertain the possibility that their name and visage might show up in these kinds of results.

And, as Quartz’s Zach Seward notes, it’s not like Facebook policy is easy to parse (hence last year’s settlement with the FTC for “deceptive” practices):

Though users can no longer opt out of search results entirely, Facebook still lets people control who has the ability to see specific updates about them in search and other parts of Facebook. Many users have found those privacy controls confusing, and another change implemented last month was intended to simplify the options.

Like we said, one way or another, graph search will make you pay more attention to maintaining your Facebook profile. Especially since you don’t have a choice. There Is No Opting Out of Facebook’s Graph Search