Facebook Graph Search: Incredibly useful or incredibly creepy?

By August 25, 2014 January 8th, 2015 No Comments

What is graph search?

Facebook graph search has been around for a while now. You have probably actually used it… but probably not to its fullest potential. Facebook graph search is the basic search at the top of the Facebook website. Most of the time you use it to look up someones name or maybe a company, group or organization. A basic search bar for basic searches. Well you may be surprised at how specific you can get in your searches. Pretty much any information you have shared with Facebook is searchable to the world. Pages you have liked, hobbies you have shared, places you may have checked into, your relationship status, how you are related to other family members, musicians you like, etc. So if I wanted to invite people to my house to eat some peanut butter I might do a search like this:

My friends who like Peanut Butter

Peanut Butter Search

And BAM! I get a list of all my friends that have told Facebook that they like peanut butter. (I started with this one as an example so you didn’t get super creeped out just yet) Pretty neat and useful if you are wanting to get together with friends that have a common interest. Maybe you have an extra ticket to a concert and want to figure out which of your friends likes the artist playing. Just search for your friends that like that artist and invite them. Not impressed yet? Okay we’ll shift into marketing mode.

Say I am wanting to do a gift certificate giveaway to my clients. I could just search: Restaurants liked by people who like AlphaGraphics Bountiful and I now have a list of restaurants that everyone who follows my Facebook page like.


You can also get a more general polling for market research: Movies liked by people who like Michelle Obama. Probably not the BEST example but hopefully you can see where I’m going with this. The more you know about your target audience the better you can tailor your marketing materials to fit in line with what they like.

Now for the big unveil of Facebook graph search creepiness. It is by far the ultimate stalker tool. Let’s do an example search:

People named “David” who checked in at PDX

Davids at PDX

Not only that, I now have more suggested search options to the right including, gender, relationship status, hometown, school, employer, etc. Kind of creepy right? Let’s say you meet someone and you only find out their first name, where they went to school and where they work. You can now really easily search for those 3 things and probably find them in no time. With some really basic information about someone you can find them on Facebook and then find out even MORE information about them.

There are a few people that have taken to posting funny Facebook graph searches like:

“Mothers of Jews who like Bacon”

“People who live nearby and like Jeffrey Dahmer”

Here’s a few links to more funny/creepy facebook graph searches:

So you’re terrified and wondering what can you do about all this Facebook graph search craziness?! Well first off you can stop giving Facebook so much information about yourself. Just assume ANYTHING you post online (Facebook or other) is public. It may take more searching to get to it but there is always a way for it to surface, so just stop volunteering information you don’t want to go public. I’m personally okay with everything I have about myself posted to social media because I only post and like things that I am okay with having go public. But let’s say you want to take some extra precautions. Facebook has added in some option to their privacy settings to help you out.

Privacy settings are always changing and I don’t want to cover everything here so I’ll just provide a link to another blogpost that does a pretty good job of covering privacy settings:

In the end Facebook graph search is a pretty powerful tool for good, bad and creepiness. Be aware that it exists, how it can be used by ANYONE and for the importance of this blog know that it can be a great resource for getting to know more about your target demographic. While not scientific or necessarily accurate it should at least get you in the ballpark.

J Meier

J Meier

J. Meier is a Creative Guru at AlphaGraphics Bountiful with an affinity for the technology and the absurd. He has years of experience in video production, photography, graphic design, brand messaging and all things fancy... specifically ketchup packets. Portland, Oregon born and raised currently living in Salt Lake City, Utah.