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Facebook 'Graphic App' Privacy Warning Hoax

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Circulating Facebook message warns that, due to the new "Graphic App", material posted on Facebook is no longer private and can be seen by anyone. The message includes instructions for overcoming this supposed problem.

Graphic App Privacy Hoax
© IJdema

Brief Analysis

The claims in the message are total nonsense. There is no such thing as a "Graphic app". This is apparently a misguided reference to Facebook's new Graph Search functionality. Graph Search does not change existing privacy settings. Following the instructions in the message will do nothing other than stop you from seeing much of what your friends are doing on Facebook and stop them from seeing what you are doing as well.  You can control who can see what you post via Facebook's Privacy Settings. Posting this false and misleading information will do nothing whatsoever to protect your privacy.



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Hello to all of you who are on my list of contacts of Facebook. I would like to ask a favor of you…. You may not know that Facebook has changed its privacy configuration once again. Thanks to the new "Graphic app", any person in Facebook anywhere in the world can see our photos, our "like" and our “comments”. During the next two weeks, I am going to keep this message posted and I ask you to do the following and comment "DONE". Those of my friends who do not maintain my information in private will be eliminated from my list of friends, because I want the information I share with you, my friends, to remain among my friends and not be available to the whole world. I want to be able to publish photos of my friends and family without strangers being able to see them which is what happens now when you choose "like" or "comment".

Unfortunately we cannot change this configuration because Facebook has made it like this. So, please, place your cursor over my photo that appears in this box (without clicking) and a window will open. Now move the cursor to the word "Friends", again without clicking and then on "Settings". Uncheck "Life Events" and "Comments and Like". This way my activity with my family and friends will no longer be made public. Now, copy and paste this text on your own wall (do not "share" it!). Once I see it published on your page, I will un-check the same for you.

Detailed Analysis

Versions of this message have been circulating vigorously on Facebook since late 2012.  The messages claim that, due to recent configuration changes by Facebook, total strangers all over the world can now see photos and comments we post on Facebook as well as any "likes" we make on the network.

The latest incarnation of the message blames this supposed privacy breach on what it refers to as Facebook's new "Graphic app".  The message features step-by-step instructions that it claims will counteract the changes and protect the privacy of users.

However, the claims in the messages are utter nonsense. Facebook has not made changes that fundamentally compromise the privacy of its users as claimed in the message. Material you post on Facebook will be accessible by others based on the privacy settings you have chosen. Just as it always has.

Whoever created the message either had a fundamentally flawed understanding of even basic Facebook privacy settings, or was deliberately intending to spread misinformation.

The "Graphic app" reference is apparently alluding to the Graph Search functionality which has been fairly recently introduced on the network. It is not an app. Nor does using Graph Search compromise the privacy of Facebookers in the way suggested in the hoax message. Information about Graph Search from Facebook itself notes:

Graph Search results are personalized for you, just like News Feed is unique to you. For example, if you search for Photos of Tokyo, you'll see photos friends took in Tokyo and shared with you, as well as Public photos related to Tokyo.

This means if 2 people search "Photos of my friends in Tokyo," they're going to see different results.
If you have your Facebook account set to "Public", then, certainly, information you post on the network may show up in Graph Search results.  But, given that any material you have set to "Public" can always be seen by anyone who cares to access it, then its appearance in Graph Search is of no consequence whatsoever.

Conversely, if you have your privacy settings configured to show material to "friends only", then only your friends will see your material when they use Graph Search.

So what of the instructions outlined in the message? The settings discussed allow you to control what types of updates you see from a given Facebook friend. Thus, obeying the instructions will do nothing more than stop you from seeing much of what your friend is doing on Facebook. And, if your friends uncheck you as advised in the message, they will no longer see what you are doing either.  Obviously, the procedure outlined is not a logical, sensible or effective method of protecting your privacy on Facebook. And, furthermore, the procedure is completely unnecessary.

To reiterate, to control who sees material you post on Facebook, all you need to do is access your account's Privacy Settings and configure it as you see fit. This privacy control is available to all Facebook users at any time.

It is high time that this piece of Facebook drivel was put down once and for all. If you receive one of these messages, do not follow the instructions it contains. And take a moment to let the person who posted it know that the claims in the message are unmitigated nonsense.

Last updated: July 9, 2015
First published: July 16, 2013
By Brett M. Christensen
About Hoax-Slayer

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