Get ready for Facebook Graph Search

Posted on 25 June 2013

Facebook are rolling out a new function, Graph Search, which will have implications for how you manage your privacy in two key areas.

1. Ensuring only your friends can see your photos

With the new Graph Search function, people who are not your friends could search for photos of you by typing in the search bar at the top of Facebook “photos of [your name]”.

This will display all the photos you are tagged in which have the privacy set to ‘public’, although it won’t display photos where the privacy of the photo is set to ‘friends only’. 

Unfortunately the choice about this privacy setting is in the control of the person who posted the photo of you.

Changing your own privacy settings to ‘friends only’ will therefore no longer be enough to protect your privacy completely – although it will help keep your Timeline private, so it’s still a wise choice.

What can you do?

To help prepare you for when Graph Search is available in the UK, you can find which pictures would be displayed to someone who isn’t your Facebook friend if they did a Graph Search of your name. Simply follow these steps:

  • Click on the ‘Privacy Shortcuts’ padlock at the top right of your screen
  • Select ‘Who can see my stuff?’
  • Select ‘Use Activity Log’
  • On the left menu, select ‘Photos’
  • At the top, in the Shared with options, select ‘Public’.
  • These photos would appear in a Graph Search of your name, to someone who isn’t your friend.

If you are not happy with them being publicly searchable, you need to detag (click on the photo, select ‘Options’ at the bottom, select ‘Report/Remove tag) or ask your friend who posted the photo to change the privacy settings to ‘Friends only’.

2. Changes to using ‘Hide from Timeline’ to manage what your friends can see

When Graph Search rolls out, your Facebook friends will be able to search for pictures or posts that you have hidden from your Timeline.

Perhaps a friend posted an embarrassing photo and you hid it so the rest of your friends couldn’t see it. Or perhaps some of you teachers are using it to manage what photos your colleagues can see.

Up to now, hiding things on your Timeline has been a helpful way of preventing your Facebook friends from seeing these pictures.

However, with the new Graph Search feature, friends will be able to search all pictures you are tagged in by going to the search bar at the top of the page and typing “photos of [your name]”. Even pictures that are hidden on your Timeline will appear in this search.

What can you do?

  • Check the photos you have hidden from your Timeline and review whether you would be happy for your friends to find them. To find what you have hidden, follow the steps above to find your Activity Log. Select ‘Photos’ on the left menu. At the top, in the Alll (Hidden or Visible) options, select ‘Hidden’.
  • If you aren’t happy with any of these photos, then it is time to detag. (See Facebook’s advice about how to detag). The photo will still remain on Facebook, so if you really aren’t happy with it, you could ask your friend to remove the photo from Facebook completely. When you’re removing the tag, you have the option to also select ‘I want this photo removed from Facebook’. Then you can select ‘I don’t like this photo of me’, choose one of the reasons, and then it will present you with a message you can edit and send to the friend who posted the photo, kindly requesting them to remove it.

Other things that might show up in Graph Search are things that you have liked, places you have been tagged in and your location information. Find out more from It would be an idea to have a look around your Activity Log to explore exactly what is shared about you on Facebook, and decide what you are happy to share.

Do you have any tips about protecting your privacy on Facebook? Why not leave a comment.

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