How To Stop Facebook's New Graph Search From Pulling Up Embarrassing Past Posts

A new Facebook tweak makes it easier for old posts to resurface, by allowing public and friends-wide keyword searches. The adaptation isn't being met with total enthusiasm from users. The new feature, Graph Search, incorporates status updates, check-ins, comments and photo captions into the things you're able to search on Facebook. So, for instance, you could find status updates about Breaking Bad by searching for it or "Posts about Breaking Bad by my friends."

You can also search for posts about a place or from a certain time, such as "Posts by my friends from last month" or "Posts written at [local bar]." And you can search for your own old posts with things like “Posts I commented on” or “My posts from 2007."

For some of us, this is a terrifying proposition. Think about the kinds of things you posted on Facebook when you first joined. If you're under 35, it's likely you joined at a very different stage in life than the one you're now in. For me and many others, 2014 will mark ten years — a whole decade — of having a Facebook profile (isn't that a little bit mind-boggling?). Lord knows what I was posting to my 65 friends in 2004, but I'm pretty sure I don't want it searchable now.

Graph Search doesn't override prior privacy settings — if you kept statuses friends only, they'll only appear in friends' searches. But things once only recalled only by a lot of scrolling could now be recalled by current friends (including, you know, mom, your co-workers, your new crush) with a few clicks.

Though I can see instances where this search option would be useful, but I can also see instances where it could enable people getting a bit stalker-ish. Here are some of the new search capability examples that Facebook gives:

  • "Photos of my friends in New York"
  • "People who like Cycling and are from my hometown"
  • "Photos before 1990"
  • "Restaurants in London my friends have been to"

Most people don't have the new search option yet."This is rolling out slowly to a small group of people who currently have Graph Search and we will continue to improve this experience," Facebook says. I just tried to find incriminating things about my friends by searching words like drunk, sex and snorting Vicodin, but all I got was Salon articles and posts from It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia, so I guess I don't have it yet. You can join the waiting list with me here.

If you'd like to make your old Facebook life less searchable in the meantime, you can do that in a few ways:

Image: Sofiabudapest/Flickr