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Facebook’s new search cranks up the creep
It’s hard to ignore the appeal of a shiny new semester. The prospect of exciting new classes, friends and a fresh playing field for testing your favorite pick-up lines spells a fresh start—whether you like it or not, really.
But don’t try to drastically alter your personality just yet, because the internet is about to take your number.
Yesterday’s announcement from social network giant Facebook revealed the details of a new search engine technology set to change the way users treat the site and its exhaustive catalog of friends, “likes,” and interests.
It’s called Graph Search, and it’s already available for a lucky few thousand users to test on their own profiles. But what does it do, exactly?
Basically, the technology allows Facebook users to search for information based on the habits of other users, whether they’re friends with them or not.
For example, a user might ask the search engine to locate a coffee shop in a particular city, based on how many people living in that city actually like that coffee shop on Facebook.
If you’ve got romance on your mind, you might ask Facebook’s faceless search guru to show you all of your friend’s friends who are currently single, and then narrow down this list by eliminating anyone who doesn’t share your taste in music.
It’s like online dating, except creepier, plus the people you’re scoping out never know they’re being “checked out.” Cool, huh?
The destructive power of a web search can’t be truly understood until someone digs up your old MySpace page, and discovers that in a moment of youthful indiscretion, you declared Nickelback the greatest band of our generation—or worse. If you’ve ever had a prospective employer bring up questionable pictures on your Facebook profile during a job interview, Graph Search probably already scares you.
But this new search tech isn’t quite as bad as the almighty Google, since it only sifts through the details you choose to put on Facebook in the first place. Unfortunately for you, the site is aging—if you started early, your profile might be approaching nine years of life.
How much do you remember about yourself nearly a decade in the past—and more importantly, how much do you want your friends to remember?
Honestly, we’re not that worried, since if there’s something particularly embarrassing from your past that you’d like to forget, Facebook allows you to hide or change it.
The only problem is that some users don’t even know this embarrassing information still exists, since it’s buried under years of boring status updates and pictures of cats. In that case, it’s probably wise to take a few hours and dig through your internet life for anything you’re not proud of—trust us, it’s out there.
Take this precaution, and Graph Search actually sounds like a blast. If nothing else, it’s poised to revolutionize our college-aged generation’s national pastime of stalking exes, checking out old kindergarten classmates, and arbitrarily deciding who should be your friend based on something so trivial as the bands you both like.
If that’s what you use Facebook for—and let’s face it, most of us do—then this new feature represents a great leap forward. Towards what exactly, we’re not quite sure, but at least we’re moving.