It's Only Creepy If You're A Creep

So I got access to Graph Search recently. For those who aren't aware, this is Facebook's new contextual search tool that can bring up results to queries like:

  • Jews who like Bacon
  • Feminists who like Daniel Tosh
  • Parents who like Tom Flanagan

It's great for parties. You can pull up cheesy and obviously contradictory searches, and there's no shortage of people out their whose convictions are, to put it gently, inconsistent. I think there's other searches you can do that start to get a bit questionable. Status updates containing the phrase "I hate my job." Single women near me who like getting drunk and have more than one spelling mistake in their latest status update. It's not quite there yet, but that seems to be the intended end point.

Not that specific search of course, but that level of detail. And I'm actually kinda looking forward to it.

Here's a fun fact about me that always fails to impress people: when Facebook first launched at York University in 2005, I was one of the first 20 or so people to open an account. I remember being able to pull up a list of everyone in York's network and it was literally a couple pages of results for the entire school. There were very minimal privacy controls at this stage. Wirehog was still a thing. And I very distinctly remember going to parties where I didn't know anyone in the hope that I could show up, say "I heard about this on Facebook,"  and have that not be weird.

And it wasn't, back then. Now, it would be. But I'd like to believe that it doesn't have to be, and in fact isn't weird or creepy... as long as you don't mention it. It's one of those "how the sausage is made" things.

I go out for an evening with friends. Someone comes over and introduces themselves, and they're smart, articulate, fun to chat and drink with in every way. We hang out, exchange contact info, become friends. Do I need to know that they've been reading my blog for weeks and used it as a tool to figure out what would make for good conversation between us? Nope. I'm grateful to have made a new friend. Of course the flipside of that is someone doing that and being really socially awkward. Not so much fun, and I totally get why we have filters and such in place.

But the downside of those filters is that in stopping people you don't want to find you from finding you... you also stop people you didn't even know you really wanted to meet from finding you. A company that can solve that problem would be in a pretty damn interesting position.


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