E-Threats Social Networks

Fight Graph Search Abuse with Facebook Privacy Settings

As Facebook finally opened the new Graph Search, security-conscious users are rushing to lock down their privacy settings to keep personal details far from intruders. The new feature allows everyone to search for old posts, status updates and for every comment, photo caption and check-in users ever posted on the platform since opening an account.

Facebook privacy may seem like an oxymoron, but there are some ways to keep enjoying the social media experience without sharing too many details with Graph Search abusers.

The roll out of the new feature may be a great opportunity to revise your attitude towards security and online privacy, in general. You could try to assume the mindset of a stalker who thinks of you as his mark. How many pictures can he find of you and your family? How many comments, personal details, check-ins, and things you’ve liked on the Internet? If the answer is none, you’re a pretty careful and security-savvy user. You could probably go the extra mile and put a patch on your webcam too, even if it’s turned off.

However, you probably aren’t all that security-conscious and don’t really want to think like a criminal, so here are some HOT & SECURE tips and tricks that may help you cover your Facebook tracks:

  • Decide who can check your profile, what information is public, and review your attitude towards the “like” button. Your “likes” and “favorites” may be retrieved by the Graph Search, so be sure not to answer to every post and favorites suggestions from your connections. You don’t have to like everything that’s out there! This also helps scammers create a better profile for targeted attacks.
  • Get accustomed to using the Activity Log. This is where you can review and adjust the people you have shared personal details with, including status updates.
  • Revise your privacy choices to determine what is searchable and who can search for you. Go to http://www.facebook.com/me/favorites and set privacy limits to your “likes.” Remember that privacy settings on Facebook are set as public, by default. Here you can limit them to your friends or yourself only. 
  • Be careful to clean your timeline from scams posted accidentally by you or your friends. Things like “Rihanna sex tape” may also end up in Graph Search results. The “like” scammers grabbed through likejacking will be easily associated with your marriage status, your employer and other information you made public.
  • Remember to install the free Bitdefender application Safego that not only protects you from malware, fraud and other scams, but also checks your privacy score.
  • You can also limit the audience for old posts on your timeline in the Privacy Settings & Tools section. Don’t hesitate to delete outright the things you now consider too private, juicy or embarrassing. Everyone is a social media freak when they start using Facebook.

The Graph Search was presented as a way to increase users’ social experience and connections. The company gave positive examples such as “Posts about Dancing with the Stars by my friends,” but security specialists had a blast with results such as “Married people who like Prostitutes” or “Woman who like porn and Bible.”

Fight Graph Search Abuse with Facebook Privacy Settings

In January, Bitdefender warned that Facebook users are vulnerable to Graph Search abuse, as the new feature is also being tested by cyber-criminals. Spammers may also take advantage of the search results, to better target their victims with Viagra and pharmacy offers. Social engineers and spear phishers may also create more accurate profiles of their targets.

In August, Facebook launched Graph Search to English-speaking users and acknowledged there are some privacy concerns.

All product and company names mentioned herein are for identification purposes only and are the property of, and may be trademarks of, their respective owners.

About the author


Bianca Stanescu, the fiercest warrior princess in the Bitdefender news palace, is a down-to-earth journalist, who's always on to a cybertrendy story. She's the industry news guru, who'll always keep a close eye on the AV movers and shakers and report their deeds from a fresh new perspective. Proud mother of one, she covers parental control topics, with a view to valiantly cutting a safe path for children through the Internet thicket. She likes to let words and facts speak for themselves.