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Facebook Graph Search and Cyber Crime: Will it Help Criminals?

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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.

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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.    

How to Avoid Falling Prey to Cyber Criminals?

One would want to know HOW such spammers, cyber criminals, hackers and phishers can be avoided???

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 is a guest post by Ambika Choudhary Mahajan- a freelance writer, eBook author & blogger. Know more about her by logging on to her site: AmbikaWrites

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31 Responses to "Facebook Graph Search and Cyber Crime: Will it Help Criminals?"

  1. abhishek says:

    That is a really great post for Facebook users out there.They need to know about the serious issues that this new feature can cause.I myself being a hacker,knows how one can use this new feature to hack Facebook accounts and misuse them,Most people aren’t aware of the privacy settings that can prevent them from being getting hacked and exposed.
    abhishek recently posted…Royal Rumble Results 2013:New Era BeginsMy Profile

  2. Amrik Virdi says:

    I really enjoyed reading it Ambika. Great article and awesome write up. I am good with my privacy settings and I personally want to use this feature since from long time but I am still waiting to get activated.. That’s my personal opinion.

    Best Regards,
    Amrik Virdi
    Amrik Virdi recently posted…How Can Indians Earn Money Online?My Profile

  3. Great article. Worth sharing.
    Every one should have awareness about the privacy settings that are having in facebook. Most of the users are not using them. All the users of facebook must know about the back end of new updates.
    sai praveen recently posted…Enrich Your Business by Facebook Graph SearchMy Profile

  4. Main Uddin says:

    Google is going to over smart day by day which gives bad impression among the bloggers and webmaster .So social media remains alternative choice of bloggers and webmasters where Facebook always in leading role .As per my own experience says that only 14% Google organic search but Perfect BloggersTech is perfect and healthy till date.
    Main Uddin recently posted…Essential Mobile Apps Simplify Daily life of Common manMy Profile

  5. Mohd Aktar says:

    Good article Ambika Choudhary Mahajan. Facebook users can say too much about themselves in this social platform.
    Mohd Aktar recently posted…Optimization for the search in the social graph on FacebookMy Profile

  6. Social networks have become inevitable part of our life. We love to share everything with friends.
    But we should not share our personal sensitive information or photos on social networks. It can be misused by others.
    Plaban Manna recently posted…Connectify Dispatch Combines Multiple Internet Connections into OneMy Profile

  7. Thanks for the appreciation, Amrik.
    Good for you that you take your privacy issues seriously.
    Anyone and everyone these days has a Facebook account these days, without knowing about all the functions and features available to them.
    There have been n number of times when I have told female friends (those who are not on my friends list) to control their settings because I saw their pictures recently.
    Silly and over enthusiastic people like these who share too much without realizing the implications will surely be hit the hardest.
    Ambika Choudhary Mahajan recently posted…How to Get Facebook Graph Search?My Profile

  8. prateek says:

    You cannot deny the fact Facebook Graph search is really awesome but just following some easy rules and avoiding any unknown links can save us from phishers and hackers..
    prateek recently posted…BlackBerry Q10 Specifications and ReviewsMy Profile

  9. Mayura says:

    Hi Ambika,

    Very crucial point and something I’m aware of as it’s related with our online security :)

    I know Facebook is trying to improve social experience over there and I’m sure many would love that feature. The risk is always involves with new features but here they gonna make use of the social data. Also not only Facebook users, but third party applications can access our personal data to be user friendly with Graph Search and that’s what we need to aware of.

    You are totally correct that many users are not aware of privacy at Facebook and eventhough Facebook offers privacy options, I don’t think still people aware of it all. If Facebook needs, they can turn off unnecessary privacy settings by default, but they don’t unless they can’t be productive much as app developers are another source of income for ‘em.

    I hope more people would aware and take necessary actions through such posts and thanks for reminder dear :)

    Have a wonderful weekend ahead, Ambika and Atish :)

    Cheers…
    Mayura recently posted…Do You Call Yourself a "Blogger"?My Profile

  10. Adrienne says:

    Hey Atish,

    You see, I don’t even think in the negative way this can be used because I’ve always had my privacy settings in place. A lot of people have tried to convince me to let people subscribe to my profile without them being friends or to share my info with people I’m not associated with. I say no way…

    My personal profile is my personal profile so if you aren’t my friend, you don’t have access to anything but my info page.

    I don’t mean to put anyone down but if you haven’t figured out how to put your privacy settings into place yet then that’s your fault. I say get with the program and everyone can stop freaking out.

    I’m loving the new search but there is no way it will ever beat Google.

    ~Adrienne
    Adrienne recently posted…Thankful Thursday – Facebook, Debt, Plagiarism & TechMy Profile

  11. Hi Adrienne,
    That is actually a very sensible way of managing your account. Not only the FB graph search, people need to understand that their pictures can be misused at platforms which would leave an unsavory taste in the mouth.
    There is no harm in connecting with friends and freaking out with them on social networking sites. What we do need to keep in mind is that personal security and privacy should not be compromised at any cost.
    Ambika Choudhary Mahajan recently posted…How to Get Facebook Graph Search?My Profile

  12. OOPS!
    Sorry, Mayur. I forgot to thank you for those words of appreciation. The reason behind my writing this post was to make all of Atish’s readers aware of privacy concerns.
    Hope you have a wonderful weekend too! :)

  13. every great tool has its sode effect. it does not mean we should not use that tool. blade is one such tool. right now facebook is on its transition stage
    so day by day it will also find iut new ideas to figjt against criminals abs frauds.
    rakesh kumar recently posted…Using advanced CSS to Spice Up Your BlogMy Profile

  14. Ravi says:

    Privacy issues are Rising day by against Google and Facebook as they just know everything. I dont know where it might go but facebook has just taken another step for it. I guess This will Increase not only Cyber Crime but Wrthless engagement in Social Networking
    Ravi recently posted…Tips to make Torrent Downloads FasterMy Profile

  15. Exactly, Ravi. Few of my friends who got it already are already complaining of having wasted time doing useless stuff over this latest app. Like searching for “Samosas liked by Barack Obama” and “Mahatma Gandhi’s favorite restaurant”. :P :D
    Could it get sillier than this??
    Anyways, it is upto us to make the best use of this platform.
    Ambika Choudhary Mahajan recently posted…Nearly 51 Known Bloggers Share Their Blogging MistakesMy Profile

  16. Sam says:

    Many Facebook users upload their pics without doing any account settings, that is really not good, especially girls. There are millions of Fake profiles by misusing others account, & these account holders just now tagging & sharing, my suggesstion please scan the various resources available on FB before someone misuse with your profile.

  17. soniya sharma says:

    Hi Atish/Ambika,

    Your post Is so Superb, I am impressed alot you. Because Whatever you share your views that is very genious and informative . As you have shared about the Facebook Graph..Really its very useful and helpful for all people. if someone search old friends so they can search byt the help of Facebook graph.. Thankyou so much Ambika For giving me useful information.

  18. Hi Atish,

    I am fully stasified With your article. Actually i didn’t know about the Facebook Graph. But got it. Now i can search my old friends by the helpful of graph who have i lost it. Really I must Say one thing Facebook Graph is a useful for everyone. i would like to say thanks alot to you Atish for sharing nice post.

  19. Ankit says:

    After reading this, it seems that I am safe if I don’t have graph invite :). Otherwise I was eager to get one.

  20. Hi Atish,

    I’m hearing Graph Search quite some time but never got much time to learn about it. Its your post that i read for the first time about this topic. I’ve not enabled Graph Search yet and thanks to the post. Will be more careful on the privacy settings.
    Suresh Khanal recently posted…Twitter Cards and how they can improve trafficMy Profile

  21. Thanks, Soniya, Sam and Stella for appreciating the write-up.
    It always feels good to know that your words are making an impact.

    Ankit, You can check out my blog for the link to get Facebook Graph Search invite. I dont think it would be right to put the link up here. My blog is mymagicmix dotcom.

    I processed my request about 3 days back only. And wanted to share ‘how to’ go about it with all those who cant wait long enough till it becomes available to all.

    The post is up there. You can check.
    Ambika Choudhary Mahajan recently posted…How to Get Facebook Graph Search?My Profile

  22. Jes says:

    Facebook is doing something extremely powerful tools to put each and everyone’s profiles in public. This is not only important for personal safety but also to the safety of the people who do not agree to have their information in the public’s eye. I hope Z thinks about this again.

  23. Vikram says:

    I totally agree with you. Facebook should first enhance it’s security features before releasing such a powerful tool. Anyone can get private and personal information about any body which is not good.

  24. This article is very beneficial to facebook users like me. We all know that facebook is now a very influential social networking service in the internet world. It is made for people to socialize and connect with friends, family, and others as well. But I do agree that it needs to upgrade its security features. We all need privacy too. Thank you for this post!

  25. Rajesh says:

    It is nice to see an article focussed on user safety. You are absolutely right in your views. Graph search will help attackers in narrowing down and focussing particular vulnerable individuals. Regarding dethroning Google, I think Facebook needs to work a lot more to compete with the big G!
    Thanks for the nice article.
    Rajesh recently posted…Update Facebook Status via Blackberry, Android, iPhone 5 or anythingMy Profile

  26. No doubt, Graph search can be misused easily. Between it need few edits to secure people’s data

  27. Very nicely written Atish Ranjan. This article is old for me as i came through search engine but i got a lots of knowledge.Thanks God bless you!…:)
    Deepika sharma recently posted…How To Add RSS Subscription And Unique Style WidgetMy Profile

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