Tumblr blog takes visitors to the dark side of Graph Search

Facebook graph search
Let's try to keep searches innocent

It's only been 24 hours, but already the Tumblr blog "Actual Facebook Graph Searches" has garnered a quarter million visitors, articles in everything from The Guardian to Gawker and maybe even a TV interview for creator Tom Scott.

"All for a cheap joke I cobbled together in an hour or so," Scott wrote on the Tumblr page today.

Scott got early access to Facebook Graph Search, a feature announced last week that is still in beta, and used his entry to play around with what he could find.

"[I] got some...well, some interesting results," he noted in the page's FAQ.


The results Scott was able to pull are probably ones most people would like to keep private, revealing the embarrassing and unsettling.

"Married people who like prostitutes" not only pulls up people who've Liked prostitutes, it also has an option to pull up "these people's spouses."

Others include "current employees of Tesco who like horses," "family members of people who live in China and like Falun Gong," and some other finds that are better left not posted here.

All the searches are ones Scott has conducted himself, he told TechRadar via email.

"It's public [information] - but I'm fairly sure that a lot of it isn't meant to be."

Scott said there's no deeper message about privacy he's trying to trumpet, though Facebookers might want to take the time to understand and implement the site's privacy settings if they haven't already.

"Graph Search jokes are a good way of startling people into checking their privacy settings - but most people will never actually be accidentally making data 'public.' (Of course, for the unlucky ones, it won't be a gamble worth taking)," Scott noted, a message he later posted on AFGP.

"Most of the danger online comes not from strangers making half-assed joke searches: it comes from people who know you.

"A lot of the public data fails what I call the 'bitter ex text' - can someone who hates you ruin your life with that information?"

This is the end

Scott characterized people's reactions to his Tumblr tease as "gawping." Despite the popularity, the cheeky creator seemingly signed off on the page Wednesday night, writing "always leave 'em wanting more."

TechRadar asked Facebook if there are any other ways besides setting info to private that users can use to keep out data they don't want appearing in Graph Search, including what to do about Likes, and will update this story if and when the company responds.

While we might not see any new "Actual Facebook Graph Searches" posts from Scott, the message is crystal clear: check and reset your privacy settings if you don't want the world (or your even your close connections) to know you like cuddling a Teddy bear while listening to Enya.

Michelle Fitzsimmons

Michelle was previously a news editor at TechRadar, leading consumer tech news and reviews. Michelle is now a Content Strategist at Facebook.  A versatile, highly effective content writer and skilled editor with a keen eye for detail, Michelle is a collaborative problem solver and covered everything from smartwatches and microprocessors to VR and self-driving cars.