Back in early 2013, Facebook launched Facebook Graph Search to give users an easier way to find people and past posts. Fast forward to 2015 and Facebook says it has more than 2 trillion posts in its search index users and its users make more than 1.5 billion searches a day . And it isn't hard to see why.
Need to look up someone's profile? Simply go to the search bar at the top of your Facebook profile and type their name (ex. "Kim Komando"). Trying to find a friend's post about something from a few years back? Instead of visiting their page and scrolling for hours, simply type "photos of Kim Komando on vacation" and it will narrow things down considerably. Of course, this convenience does come with a cost.
We warned you back when Facebook search launched that anyone could use it to see your public photos, and friends could easily dig up embarrassing past posts you forgot you made. On the other side, Facebook stores your searches forever, so anyone who gets into your Facebook account can see them. Learn how to wipe your Facebook search history.
Now Facebook is expanding search even more to make it easier to join in on discussions of trending topics. However, this new expansion is even more of a privacy nightmare if you aren't prepared.
Facebook's update to search comes in three parts, and the first one we'll look at is more search suggestions. When you start typing in a search, Facebook will try to guess what you want to see based on what you've searched for in the past.
Now it will also key in to news and popular items that are trending across the site. This isn't really a danger, but it could be annoying if you keep getting suggestions for things you don't care about, or that actively offend you. At this point, there's no way to shut this off.
The second update is that now Facebook doesn't just show you posts from friends, but posts from strangers as well. So, for example, if you search for a specific topic your friends are talking about like Back to the Future Day, you'll get what your friends said, as well as posts from around Facebook, whether from organizations, groups or individuals.
Fortunately, Facebook is still respecting privacy rules, so you'll only see strangers' public posts. However, the reverse is true. If you're posting things publicly, you could end up in someone else's search.
You also don't have any control over what posts you see. So, even if your friends are considerate and don't swear, you could end up with a post on the screen that has swearing, or something else objectionable. True, posts like that probably won't get many likes, so Facebook wouldn't show them first, but it's always possible.
The third part of Facebook's new search isn't actually searching per se. On topics or links that are going viral, Facebook links you into the "public conversation" surrounding it. According to Facebook, that means seeing "popular quotes and phrases mentioned in these posts," as well as getting an "overview of sentiment." Facebook says this feature is still something of a trial and is looking for feedback to improve it.
Here's the new search in action:
Facebook will be rolling out this updated search to its apps and the website very shortly. Before that happens, you'll want to make sure you don't have any public posts you don't want people to see. Click here to go through your privacy settings step by step and make sure you aren't sharing something you don't want to.
You should also review your past posts to make sure there isn't something you forgot about you don't want new friends to see. Get the full details on Facebook's simple tool to review and edit your history.
Of course, Facebook tweaks don't always have to be about improving your privacy. Here are five Facebook tricks that make it nicer to use, or help out with your security.
On the Kim Komando Show, the nation's largest weekend radio talk show, Kim takes calls and dispenses advice on today's digital lifestyle, from smartphones and tablets to online privacy and data hacks. For her daily tips, free newsletters and more, visit her website at Komando.com. Kim also posts breaking tech news 24/7 atNews.Komando.com.