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Facebook Graph Searches: What Can You Discover?

Friday, January 25, 2013
posted by Douglas Keene

facebook-graph-searchWe are always on the prowl for tools to help with litigation research. This one took us a little by surprise when we read a piece on it in the Atlantic. While Facebook apparently rolled this service out to be more of an information source, we wonder if they thought about how Graph Search could be used for more nefarious or humiliating purposes. For example, here are some recent graph searches done on Facebook and helpfully posted on Tumblr within 24 hours of Graph Search’s launch.

Current employers of people who like racism.

The spouses of people who like Prostitutes.

The mothers of Jews who like Bacon.

Single women who live nearby and like getting Getting Drunk.

And there are likely a lot more out there without the faces and names blurred for privacy. This new Facebook tool raises two issues for us:

First, please check your Facebook Privacy Settings again! This is something you need to do routinely but especially now! What you assume is private or only available after hours of scrolling through your own ancient history is now accessible and quickly.

Second, this raises many questions about litigation research. Now you can quickly search for attitudes and opinions toward various corporations or litigation issues. How do people feel about your corporate client? About gay marriage? About gun control? About deception? Some of the answers you may already know–because they are controversial and divisive. But the resource may also give you new areas for discovery or for questions in pretrial research.

One could argue that Facebook posts are less “troll-ish” than what you see in the Comments section of mass media news sites. People on Facebook are, after all, posting for their friends (however loosely defined). But we don’t know that for sure. Regardless, this is a sure tool for social media analysts to apply to multiple questions, and a potentially valuable online discovery tool. Your peers have already been at least considering it. As has the mass media.

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