Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB) is testing a new tool for its mobile app that makes it easier to search for photos, posts, and like that are currently hard to find, but from some of the reporting you would think that Facebook has made another drastic change to its privacy policies (it hasn’t).
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The new feature, which is being tested by a small number of mobile users, is basically graph search optimized for mobile. You can use it to look for all the photos that one of your friends is tagged in, or all of the posts that someone else has liked, and so forth. Graph search was always a bit creepy, but this doesn’t extend its functionality, it just brings Facebook Inc’s (NASDAQ:FB) brand of light cyberstalking to the mobile world. All your privacy settings are still intact so if you only share photos with certain friends, they aren’t showing up in search results and your deleted photos and posts are still hidden (from users, Facebook still uses them to target ads).
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If you’ve decided that the data mining and letting people creep your profile is worth the benefits of using Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB), there’s no reason this should change your assessment.
Facebook has built almost no good will with users
But it’s telling that the new feature is being framed as dredging up embarrassing photos and further encroaching on your privacy. Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB) has invaded people’s privacy so aggressively that even when it makes a sideways change like this that doesn’t really change anything, it’s easy to get users angry again. Of course, that doesn’t mean anyone will actually leave the site.
A similar story came out earlier this year when it turned out that Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB) could listen for ambient sounds through your smartphone mic while you were using its app to figure out what movie you’re watching or song you’re listening to. That’s weird, but the feature is opt-in and an icon pops up telling you that Facebook is listening for media that it recognizes, not exactly NSA spying. But even if the passive listening feature is more innocuous than it sounds, the reaction shows how little good faith the company has built with users. There wasn’t a stampede for the exit, and the story of people ceding privacy for convenience is an old one, but you have to wonder if this antipathy for Facebook will ever work against it.