Facebook Graph search has been hotly discussed among all social media analysts over the last few weeks. While there can be no disputing the fact that it will add to its charm and addiction value for regular users, it is being alleged that cyber criminals might use the information picked up from this hugely popular social networking sites for nefarious purposes.
Whether this new application developed by Mark Zuckerberg, with which he hopes to dethrone Google search from its reigning position as the undisputed champion can actually live up to the expectations of Zuckerberg and his team will be clear only after the initial ‘curiosity clicks’ start slowing down, questions are being raised by analysts over the possible misuse of the information thus obtained by hardcore criminals and scamsters over Facebook.
What is Facebook Graph Search?
This application allows Facebook to use the information stored by it in its huge databases since its creation by way of LIKEs, status updates, photo sharing and tags, etc. to search “Friend who have visited the Tahiti islands”, “Restaurants serving Indian food in XYZ city which my friends have LIKED”, or the “People I know who have read ‘The Alchemist’ by Paulo Coelho”.
The application which is presently available only to a limited few will soon be extended to all users.
How it can be misused?
The users are wary (and quite rightly too) over the divulging of personal details, while cyber criminals are ecstatic.
The problem of misuse will start raising its ugly head when this application becomes available to all users.
Cyber criminals who surf the internet with the sole objective of laying down baits and traps are likely to find this newly launched app much more ‘useful’ than casual surfers like you and me, particularly since it can pry into not your friends’ accounts but also the accounts of your friends’ friends.
With a powerful search tool like Facebook graph search at their disposal, phishers can target particular groups of people. Facebook users have the tendency to throw caution to the winds and to tell too much about themselves on this social platform than they probably should be.
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Facebook, on its part, has privacy settings and security options using which users can regulate the people who view their personal details. 80% of the users, however, are blissfully unaware of the existence of these privacy settings options available to them- making this newly launched app a criminals’ delight!
Cyber Criminals and phishers can narrow down their targets by searching for people who are interested in a particular activity or field and exploit people’s weaknesses to reach out to the ‘core group’ they want to without having to work too hard.
Cyber crime will certainly become much easier than ever before as criminals will have access to highly specific and personal information of more than 1 billion people from all over the globe.
Hackers, for example, can create a Facebook account (child’s play for professional criminals) and enter any niche` group of audience after befriending 4-5 over-zealous people who never turn down friend requests, even if they are from total outsiders. Anyone in a group is likely to accept requests from people even if they don’t know them personally, if they see they have some ‘mutual friends’. Not realizing at that point of time that when they befriend a person, they also choose to share not only their personal information and photographs but also those of other people on their list, depending upon their privacy settings.
In wake of these developments, it becomes all the more imperative for internet users to be extremely wary of all things over the net that sound too-good-to-be-true. Facebook users, on their part, need to seek help of friends and other users to adjust their privacy settings. The best defense, of course, is exercising discretion at the time of randomly LIKE-ing, sharing photos, tagging and adding your location, etc.
This article is written by Ambika Choudhary Mahajan. She is the founder of My Magic Mix, a blog where you will find a refreshingly delicious chutzpah of information on a variety of topics. Log on to her blog to know “Best iPhone apps for bloggers“.