Why Facebook’s Open Graph Search
Can Be a Job Seeker’s Worst Nightmare
Facebook will soon release their Open Graph search tool to the Facebook community, allowing users to perform a number of advanced searches on Facebook. But the feature is not without its privacy concerns as Facebook’s latest tool could potentially become the most effective tool employers use when researching potential job candidates.
You’ve almost certainly heard it all before. In the digital, social networking era—where young people seem so resolved to sharing as much of their lives as possible—privacy concerns should be a priority at the forefront of everyone’s minds. These concerns were justly reiterated after the release of the Facebook ticker, and again after everyone’s profiles got updated to the latest Timeline format. Both these changes made it easier for strangers to find information you uploaded to Facebook if the appropriate privacy settings were not applied.
The Open Graph tool will make it easier still as it replaces the existing basic search tool that most accounts still use. Once implemented, Open Graph will allow Facebook users to perform detailed searches on the entire Facebook community using a variety of filters to produce any information on a user that is set to public.
Essentially this means that any undesirable information you have on Facebook that isn’t locked down will never have been easier to locate.
Open Graph allows users to type—in plain English—what they’re looking for, and Facebook will retrieve it. If it’s public, then it’s liable to turn up at the business end of an Open Graph search.
So, for example, young job seekers looking to secure that elusive first job in their desired career may run into problems if they, for example, have uploaded drunken or embarrassing photos of themselves onto Facebook. As more and more employers admit to using Facebook as a research tool for potential job candidates, many Facebook users simply do not take into consideration the possibility that public information like photos uploaded to Facebook may be scrutinized by the same people who will play an important part in their professional lives.
Of course the obvious advice would be the same advice you’ve heard a hundred times. Make sure you get those privacy settings locked down and ensure anything you upload to Facebook is set to “Friends Only”.
However Open Graph search presents a further problem. Arguably some of the most potentially embarrassing information uploaded to Facebook—photos—are not uploaded by the users themselves but by their friends. Of course, these photos are subject to the privacy settings specified by the friend, and are easily discovered not just by potential employers but by anyone who uses Facebook.
This means even if you have your own account locked down, public photos of you are still easily found with Open Graph because they have been uploaded by friends. A new problem emerges.
So the advice of this post is threefold:
- Lock down your own account, if not for yourself but for your friends whose photos you are likely to upload.
- Pass this information on to your friends so they understand the possible ramifications of not having the appropriate privacy settings.
- Enable “timeline review” in the privacy settings so you can start reviewing all the posts and photos you get tagged in. If you think any of these posts could prove troublesome then you have the option to remove the tag altogether. Worth noting is that enabling timeline review doesn’t stop you being tagged, it just allows you to review the tag to see if you want it to appear on your timeline—you still need to untag yourself if you want to.
Stay safe out there.