Facebook has moved to reassure those with child safety concerns over its new Graph Search feature.
The function, which is only available to a select few users at present, allows you to search for other users by virtue of their interests, location, relationship status, and general activity on the social network. For instance, a search of “friends of friends who are single in London,” would return a list of matching users.
On top of general privacy concerns, the protection of children online has also been debated since the feature’s launch, and Facebook has now responded by announcing that members between the age of 13 and 17 will have limited visibility. Specifically, only direct friends and “friends of friends” in the same age group will be fed results through the search.
An adult searching “single females aged 17,” for example, would not get any results.
Facebook also confirmed that if it thought a user may be younger than claimed, it would suspend their account and only reactivate it after seeing official government identification.
Graph Search has received a lukewarm reception since its unveiling last month, with criticism also arriving from security experts who have described it as a “phisher’s dream”.
“Think of it like Google hacking on steroids,” said PC World’s Tony Bradley. “Attackers learned long ago that Google is a virtually endless treasure trove of valuable information… Facebook Graph Search raises the bar - and not in a good way - by delivering that same capability with a more personal context.”