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Weeks ago, Facebook enhanced Privacy Settings and users were encouraged to fill out their (now, publicly searchable) profiles more completely. These privacy settings essentially made it easier for people to show up in Facebook search.
The change was minor, but led to a much larger question: What secret plan did Facebook engineers have tucked up their sleeves? The big secret was revealed last week and is still in a limited beta: A new and improved search experience, Graph Search.
The idea of Graph Search is to offer each individual user unique search results based on their interests, information and content that has been shared with them. i.e. If the majority of your friends live near you and are 'foodies' then you trust that when you generate a search (in the search bar) for a food recommendation, you will get valuable results.
What are these improvements and how do they affect privacy?
The improvements to search are based on relevance to a specific user. These new search results pages include things like social context, category, location and address, likes, ratings, active users, similar Pages, or even a description about a specific business or organization. Consider Graph Search a new and improved 'social search.'
People fear invasion of privacy and over-exposure to the public, but the notion is null because when signing up for a social account, users are warned that the moment they press 'send,' their information is no longer private. More importantly, if a user's privacy settings are set up so that only friends can see their page, then they will only show up in a Social Graph that was searched by their friends.
What does this mean for individuals and businesses?
If you're a Facebook user: Make sure your Privacy Settings are set up to your liking. Know that all of your profile information, down to the Pages you like, is now publicly available to other users (based on your privacy settings).
If you're a business with a Facebook Page: Make sure the layout of your Page is up to date and complete. Be sure you're branding your business properly in your name, category, URL, cover photo, profile photo and description. Graph Search results are displaying higher photo resolution than before, so you want to make sure your Facebook presence is visually appealing.
Update your address so that a search on your specific location can be in your favor. Share as much engaging content as possible on your Page so that you appear more often in relevant searches. Strengthen the connections you already have and get to know your fans rather then putting your focus on gaining more fans. Remember: Results are based on a user's existing likes and interests.