back to article Facebook in futile attempt to block perverts from Graph Searching for teens

Facebook has attempted to flatten fears about perverts using the company's Graph Search function to prey on teenagers on the network, by saying that controls would be in place to protect young people. The Graph Search feature, which is currently in beta, was announced by Facebook in January. It is only available to a small …


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  1. rcorrect

    Good article. We'll never be able to completely protect kids from idiots but we shouldn't make locating potential victims any easier. Always thought that Facebook's search abilities should be expanded but now I am rethinking that position. Facebook is already successful and the average user most likely has hundreds of contacts so maybe Facebook can look at improving other areas of it's service.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      > Facebook is already successful ....

      Really? From Bloomberg:

      Facebook Inc. (FB) reported a plunge in fourth-quarter profit on higher spending, even while it made long-awaited progress luring advertisers eager to reach mobile- device users.

      Net income fell 79 percent to $64 million last quarter as operating expenses jumped 82 percent, Facebook said yesterday. That outpaced a 40 percent revenue gain to $1.59 billion and raised concerns that margins will come under pressure. The stock fell as much as 8 percent as investors weighed near-term lower profit against the prospect of future growth.

      1. Steve Knox Silver badge


        1. Not all success is financial.

        2. Not all financial success is short-term.

        3. Not all short-term financial success is positive relative to previous successes.

        Facebook is still the most popular social-media hangout, and even your gloomy Bloomberg report includes the fact that they made a profit in the fourth quarter.

        They may not be Wall Street's darling boy, but claiming that they're unsuccessful is rather disingenuous.

        1. rcorrect

          Re: @Condiment

          > 1. Not all success is financial.

          @Steve Knox - Thank you.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      The way to deal with this would be for Governments to enact a law stating that social networks operating in a particular country must enforce their own rules and have in place a system that protects children.

      Every industry that deals with children have safeguarding policies in place, why should social networks be any different?

  2. K Silver badge

    I've got a solution for this...

    All kids should be restricted to dial up speeds... then they won't be able to post pictures!

    1. Charles 9 Silver badge

      Re: I've got a solution for this...

      Oh? I used to recall being able to upload pictures to bulletin boards...and that was in the days of the 9600-bps modem.

    2. davidp231

      Re: I've got a solution for this...

      150bps should be more than sufficient. ;-)

  3. TeeCee Gold badge

    Who knew?

    .....many kids under that age are understood to be connected to the network.

    I know it's early days, but that could just be a candidate for understatement of the century.

  4. Gav

    Time to regress back to childhood.

    The difference with this "Think Of The Children" argument is that no-one seems to care about the grown ups. What if an adult doesn't want stalked by a "friend of a friend"? What if an adult has friends who also have "friends" they don't know and/or don't trust? Tough luck, if you are over 16 Facebook reckons you're not deserving privacy.

    Think it's time to become a child on Facebook, not to be a creepy molester, but because it's the only way to have Facebook limit how they use your information. I quite fancy being born in the 21st century.

    1. Blitterbug

      Re: Time to regress back to childhood.

      ...or you could just close your account like I did a week ago. Will lose easy means of contacting one or two peeps <shrugs>. Can't actually think of one single benefit that horribly-designed UI ever gave me.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Time to regress back to childhood.

      "What if an adult doesn't want stalked by a "friend of a friend"?"

      You do realise you can choose your privacy settings as defaults and for all your posts? As an adult it is expected you can comprehend the setting that says "public", "friends of friends" and "friends only" and select accordingly.

      Restricting children is due to the fact that they maybe can't appreciate the ramifications of marking things visible to the public.

  5. This post has been deleted by its author

  6. Khaptain Silver badge

    Ethical question

    Can someone explain in clear terms why Children under 13 NEED to be on facebook ?

    1. edge_e

      Re: Ethical question

      Because their mates are.

      I would now like to point out that I think this reason is lame, but it is the reason.

      1. Gav

        Because their mates are.

        If you think back to when you were 13, "because your mates are/do/will/can" is the best reason in the world, bar none. Peer pressure and the desire to fit in is absolutely everything at that age.

    2. Tom Wood

      Re: Ethical question

      Nobody NEEDs to be on Facebook.

      Many people want to be.

      This is true whatever your age.

      1. Lusty Silver badge

        Re: Ethical question

        "Nobody NEEDs to be on Facebook"

        Actually, younger kids do because that's one of the few ways they communicate. Email, SMS and phone calls are for the older generation with many kids only getting an email address so they can sign up to Facebook and twitter. Yes, they would survive without it, just like they would survive without shoes, but they would have a horrible time at school if they can't communicate with anyone except in person.

  7. R 11

    Maybe 13 is the problem

    Why do we wait until kids are 13, by which time many are seeking privacy and have their own phones/computers.

    Shouldn't we introduce them at a much younger age and have parents try and teach them good skills about what is sensible to post online and what is not? Why is online safety not part of the curriculum from the first day of school?

    1. PaulR79

      Re: Maybe 13 is the problem

      It would be a good idea but that goes against anything this current government, and all before (and after) stand for. The neighbours have a daughter and she had her own laptop at about 10. I don't know if the neighbours are computer literate or not but the best way to tackle such issues is learning, not banning / blocking things. If you forbid something you make it more enticing. My attempts to quit eating pizza can attest to that :(

      1. sysconfig

        Re: Maybe 13 is the problem

        "If you forbid something you make it more enticing. My attempts to quit eating pizza can attest to that :("

        Pizza is banned? Damn now I want one too!

        I agree that the adult generations keep trying to shift responsibility from themselves to governments, schools and whatever. Blocking/banning is the easiest way, but most certainly also the least effective.

    2. Euripides Pants Silver badge

      Re: Maybe 13 is the problem

      "Why is online safety not part of the curriculum from the first day of school?"

      Several years of pointing out the stupidity of giving all one's personal information to a socially maladjusted man-child so he can give that information to faceless corporations so they can try to sell you stuff you don't want or need is how we raised a teenager with no interest in Facebook.

    3. Charles 9 Silver badge

      Re: Maybe 13 is the problem

      Part of the problem is that kids that young may not be fully cognizant of the potential consequences. We tell kids to just say no, but they sometimes have trouble understanding WHY they say no. Kids may scoff at "Because I said so," but if told the actual reasons may just reply with a "retard's stare," meaning it went completely over their heads. By the time of adolescence kids are at least aware of the concept of personal privacy and would therefore be interested in ways to safeguard it.

    4. CmdrX3

      Re: Maybe 13 is the problem

      That assumes parents take an active interest in what their children are doing online. Many parents expect other people to ensure they are protected instead of assuming that responsibility for themselves.

  8. Eddie Edwards
    Thumb Down

    Not relevant

    "there are no controls in place to prevent a male adult from claiming to be a 14-year-old girl who attends a local school. He could then quite easily befriend kids on the network and then use Graph Search for online grooming purposes."

    Except by the time he's befriended one kid at that school he doesn't need to use Graph Search for this purpose. This is a fairly obscure reason to be afraid of Graph Search per se, vs being afraid of kids being on Facebook per se.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I have never understood

    why some people with Facebook accounts complain about Google's approach to privacy. Surely this would result in a bad case of cognitive dissonance.

  10. Euripides Pants Silver badge

    Facebook sez there will be privacy controls

    Oh, good. No cause for worry.

    1. Pascal Monett Silver badge

      Privacy controls ? How ?

      Given that "[Facebook] doesn't request - for example - copies of someone's passport or driving licence", then they can hardly guarantee that Sally Smallperson, 15, is really 15, really named Sally, or is really going to Westborough Baptist Church in Tumbleweed, Colorado, now can they ?

      Neither can they be sure that John Doe, 24, is really a truck driver from Arlington, New York.

      Frankly, I don't see how anyone on FaceBook can trust anyone else they've never met to be who they say they are. If I had a FaceBook profile, that knowledge would be nagging me constantly.

      And yet, there are other web sites out there that mandate a FaceBook ID to login, citing "security purposes". FaceBook can content itself with inexistant security and ID controls, that is Zuckerberg's privilege after all, but I think those other websites had better be prepared for a rough time if ever their logon scheme (trusting a publicly-known, technically untrustable source for login IDs) goes pear-shaped.

      1. Andus McCoatover

        Re: Privacy controls ? How ?

        Agree. I use FB daily, mainly to see what my kids are up to. (Oh, and ave a laugh with George Takei..He finds some really funny stuff!)

        Point is, I never 'Friend' anyone unless I know them personally (Takei is an exception). So if the parents implemented that rule, FB would be a safer place.

        Also agree with a previous poster that "Internet Safety" must be added to the school curriculm. You never know what little toe-rag is gonna tell his '10-year old new girlfriend' called Bubba, which window is insecure, so he can meet Bubba...

        1. keithpeter

          Re: Privacy controls ? How ?

          "Also agree with a previous poster that "Internet Safety" must be added to the school curriculum."

          Not sure about schools, I teach in FE, but all personal tutors in my College take this training....

          CEOPS also provide resources aimed at parents

          at my College we have posters (designed by students) along the lines of not posting images, personal information &c on-line as you lose control of it. The 16+ teenagers seem to know the issues and are not generally being daft. I agree that similar work should be done lower down the education stack. For all I know it may be there already.

  11. Ian Emery Silver badge

    and the government numptys talk about using FB IDs to access government services and benefit payment systems!!!!

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    default privacy a thing of the past

    Before social media, a child was essentially private and anonymous beyond family, friends and school. As such, that anonymity afforded them a great deal of security from predatory adults looking to exploit children in all sorts of pernicious ways. If the child wanted to do something that made their existence more public, it was difficult and generally would need parental knowledge and help.

    Now social media reverse that default position of privacy and anonymity. Children are under (peer) pressure to be a lot more public about themselves - their physical appearance, interests, views, state of mind, health etc. Social media websites make it easy and positively encourage it. The child's security is, therefore, compromised and makes them more vulnerable. FB themselves admit this by building in these teen graph search restrictions!

    I instinctively feel that this move away from default privacy is not a good thing. I don't think it would be a good idea for my kids to run into a crowded pub full of adult strangers and announce at the top of their voice their innermost thoughts and feelings. And yet, I suspect many children and parents don't realise that this is tantamount to what they do on social media websites.

    I'm no tin-foil-hatter or Luddite but I am aware of what a public company's primary motivation is - maximizing share holder returns, which is not necessarily the same as safe-guarding our children! I will prevent, for as long as possible, my young children's involvement with social media. In the mean time, I will educate them to recognise that the priorities of large corporations are not always the same as their own.

  13. Splatcat

    Yes it's an age thing

    The issue isn't just adults pretending to be younger.

    Due to the age restriction all of my childrens friends lie about their ages on Facebook. Which will not only fool adults but also ensure they don't come under age age related protections brought in.

  14. This post has been deleted by its author

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Eventually

      That will happen in the UK 30 milliseconds after Cameron and his mates decide to use Facebook logins for access to benefits. Follow the money.

  15. david 63

    I feel left out...

    ...I haven't got a single stalker.

  16. FordPrefect

    Surely the way forward is to put a tick box in everyone's profile saying "I do not wish to be part of expanded search?"

  17. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

    All's well that ends well...

    ... which, alas, does not include this article.

    All of this makes it even more surprising that Graph Search - which relies heavily on revealing information to friends-of-friends - isn't limited to being an adults-only playpen.

    And how, precisely, would Facebook do that, given the premise of the article, which is that Facebook users may lie about their age?

    This is what Bruce Schneier and other security folks mean when they talk about a security mindset. If the problem is that mechanism X of your system is insecure, then adding more mechanism X does not improve your security.

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