The search engine for the social networking site Facebook, dubbed Graph Search, is rolling out to users of the site as of Monday, July 8.
The company stated to ABC News that Graph Search would this week begin rolling out to users of the social networking site in the US who have their default language set to English and are not already beta users.
Graph Search, which was initially announced back in January 2013, is not intended to be a competitor for internet-wide search engines such as Google or Bing but rather is designed to enable users to find content shared within the confines of the social networking site itself.
The searches draw on content shared by a user's friends and friends of friends -- in short, the total of that user's connections. This means that each person who is searching, provided they do not have the same friends in common, will see search results personal to them -- for example two users with different friends will not see the same results, so when they search "Friends in Brazil," for instance, the results will differ for each user.
Searches can be conducted around pairs of phrases, for example "Friends in" or "co-workers" followed by the city in which the user conducting the search lives, or an activity that the user conducting the search has an interest in, such as "running."
As the user begins searching for "Friends in New York who like running," for example, a list of pages, friends, photos and apps will appear below the search bar; the user then clicks on the most appropriate example and hits "enter."
Of course, there is a fear that the introduction of Graph Search will further reduce the levels of privacy enjoyed by individual users on the site.
Privacy settings will affect search results; for example if your settings are to share content with "Only Me" then no shared content will appear in searches, privacy settings of "Friends" mean that any content shared with friends on the site will appear when they conduct a search. Anything shared as "Public" will appear in the search results of anyone on the site, regardless of whether or not they are friends. This however is not new to Graph as content shared "Public" is visible to anyone on Facebook and others who are not on the social networking site through standard internet searches.
It is recommended by Facebook that users review the past content they have shared and check the audience for each post. It is also worth remembering that photos are visible to the audience that they are shared with, the people tagged in the photo and whatever audience those tagged then choose to share it with. Therefore even if one is just sharing the image with friends, those friends tagged may then share it with others, who you are not friends with, and as such may be seen via search by people with whom you have no direct link with on Facebook. Photos of oneself that are hidden from one's timeline will also still be visible in search.
While it is advisable to adjust one's privacy settings and pay attention to the audience of previous posts, which can be reviewed via one's "Activity Log," perhaps the best idea for protecting one's privacy is the old adage "Don't put anything on the internet you wouldn't tell a complete stranger."