Facebook Search: Fun for Some?

April 19, 2019

Ah, Facebook. The news about millions of exposed passwords was almost lost in the buzz sparked by the now infamous “Report.” Every week, it seems, there is a Facebook goodie to delight.

Despite its modest flaws, Facebook might be a social media network becoming a fave of the Mashable reports in “Facebook’s Search Feature Has Some Pretty Creepy Suggestions” about the firm’s search function.

Allegedly the Facebook search function allowed users to search for photos of women, but not men. Inti De Ceukelaire, a Belgian security researcher, discovered that when he typed in “photos of my female friends,” he got the desired results. However, doing the opposite with “photos of my male friends” yielded memes Risqué search phrases were also automatically suggested:

“That discrepancy is troubling enough, but it gets worse. While testing out these searches, the first automatically suggested query was “photos of my female friends in bikinis,” which returned photos of women in bikinis, as well as one image of a topless woman, which would appear to violate Facebook’s rules against nudity. Facebook removed the image  following Mashable’s inquiry. Separately, “photos of my female friends at the beach” was also suggested.”

Mashable continued to test the big and discovered more questionable searches that contained what might be thought of as a “creep” factor. Searches with male in the search phrase, though, were more innocuous. Facebook reports that suggested search phrases are not based on an individual user’s history, but all of Facebook. In other words,

Who coded this search function? Maybe some men? Men just having fun?

Whitney Grace, April 18, 2019


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