Facebook Rolls Out Graph Search Feature

You might have noticed a new feature at the top-left corner of your Facebook page Monday: Graph Search, the new "natural language" web-search tool Facebook's been practicing in beta for months.

If you didn't see anything different, brace yourself for a layout change over the next few days—and for the flurry of angry "I'm leaving Facebook!" statuses on people who never seem to actually leave Facebook.

The new Graph Search, in plain language, makes it easier to find the people, places, and photos you're looking for.

So, let's say that it's Monday and your brain isn't working and you're trying to remember the name of a friend of a friend you've been meaning to get in touch with. (A hypothetical, example, obviously.) You remember that they went to school in, um... California?... and they're close with one of your friends. So you do this.

Or, let's say, you're really, really into Star Wars and origami, and you're pretty into finding other people who share these two simultaneous interests.

Or you're feeling nostalgic about the Fourth of July weekend, and you're keen to see your friends' photographs from last weekend. This probably also applies if you're a moderately creepy guy who wants to see photos of his female friends in bikinis.

In response to the resulting uproar about privacy—because it's now easier than ever to find whatever it is you're looking for, wherever it's been shared with Facebook—Facebook released an introduction, centered around the "we're protecting your privacy" theme.

"Graph Search helps people explore Facebook in a whole new way. Graph Search results are different for everyone, based on what you've shared with them. Your privacy choices determine what your friends see when they search," the company says.

With that in mind, here's an updated, Graph-Search-centric page by ABC advising how you can keep your information as private as you want it.

Concerns about the appearance of minors in search results and the increased ease of "phishing" have also surfaced with the new feature. (Phishing is essentially user-specific hacking, and much easier to do when you have a person's information at your fingertips: where they live, what they've visited, what school they went to, and where they work.)

Alex Storms, a director of security operations, told PC World: "If you thought the level of spam and phishing scams on Facebook couldn't possibly get worse, I have bad news for you. We ain't seen nothing yet."

Happy Monday, indeed.