Feeds

Zuck on it, Google: 'Public' Facebook events are dead to you

No more free rides, you gotta sign up to see... bitch

Build a business case: developing custom apps

Exclusive Facebook is squirrelling away search results about its users' public events that could once be easily found through Google, The Register has learned.

The move appears to have followed the unveiling of the social network's Graph Search, a beta version of which has been deployed to its one-billion-strong active userbase. Naturally, we've asked Facebook if this is a bug.

By way of example, events that are listed as "public" within Facebook can no longer be viewed via Google unless one logs into Facebook. It's easy enough to test by simply putting the following string into Google's search engine and hitting one of the returned results:

like: dance "January 2013" site:facebook.com/events

What's interesting is that Facebook now takes anyone clicking on the search results directly to its HTTPS-encrypted login page, which is a significant change to previous Google queries as its web-page cache clearly shows. Once logged in, one can see the "public" event, but for those who don't have nor want a Facebook account, the back button in your browser is your escape route.

Google's cache shows that this public event for pole-dancing was recently searchable on the web.
But the link tells a different story

It appears Facebook has made its "public" pages private to web searches, and it's not just shunning rival Google. Microsoft's Bing, which recently defended its skating-on-ice relationship with Mark Zuckerberg's web company, also has its search results for the social network redirected to Facebook's login page.

But Bing's web-page cache for all sorts of public events on Facebook equally shows that the change has been a very recent one.

Just yesterday, Facebook was forced to defend its new Graph Search function, after a blogger revealed how easy it is to dig up compromising information about Facebook users.

It is trivial, for example, to find people who back the spiritual discipline Falun Gong and have relatives in China, where that organisation is banned - a search that may be of interest to the Communist state's officials.

It's also simple to find married people who "liked" prostitutes - and locate the wedded folks' spouses.

Facebook's Michael Richter explained:

Just as you control who can see your friend lists, your friends control who can see their friend lists. Someone might be able to tell that you're friends with another person - and search based on that friendship - if they can see your friendship on the other person's timeline. So if you're concerned about people searching for info about your friends, you can ask your friends to limit who can see their friends list as well.

Some people have asked us why search works this way. The reason is that we want people to be clear on who can see info about them not only in Graph Search, but elsewhere on Facebook - such as on timeline or in News Feed. Privacy controls work consistently across Facebook.

Reg comment

What Facebook is in effect telling its users is that the company needs to build a web within the web in order to encourage everyone to create an account and make Facebook more money as it fends off Google.

The endgame is to tie together all the data it holds on its users to precisely target advertising and boost revenues. It's watched Google pocket billions and billions of dollars by building a search engine that indexes the internet - Facebook wants in on this but it ain't in the mood for sharing its own wealth of data with anyone.

Team Zuck now has to connect the loose dots between friends of friends to create that web within the web and allow its Graph Search function to fully milk the 4.7 degrees of separation that apparently exists on the network.

Which is perhaps why public events are now private to anyone outside of the network. Facebook has always been clear that it relies on tying real-life information to individual identities. No wonder, then, that the company is now confining its search results only to its community.

But it's also worth noting that advertisers had early access to the kind of results slowly becoming available to Facebookers via Graph Search. And that's probably all we need to know about why such information is being ever-more locked down within Facebook's silo. ®

HP ProLiant Gen8: Integrated lifecycle automation

More from The Register

next story
KDE releases ice-cream coloured Plasma 5 just in time for summer
Melty but refreshing - popular rival to Mint's Cinnamon's still a work in progress
NO MORE ALL CAPS and other pleasures of Visual Studio 14
Unpicking a packed preview that breaks down ASP.NET
Secure microkernel that uses maths to be 'bug free' goes open source
Hacker-repelling, drone-protecting code will soon be yours to tweak as you see fit
Cheer up, Nokia fans. It can start making mobes again in 18 months
The real winner of the Nokia sale is *drumroll* ... Nokia
Put down that Oracle database patch: It could cost $23,000 per CPU
On-by-default INMEMORY tech a boon for developers ... as long as they can afford it
Another day, another Firefox: Version 31 is upon us ALREADY
Web devs, Mozilla really wants you to like this one
Google shows off new Chrome OS look
Athena springs full-grown from Chromium project's head
prev story

Whitepapers

Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
Application security programs and practises
Follow a few strategies and your organization can gain the full benefits of open source and the cloud without compromising the security of your applications.
How modern custom applications can spur business growth
Learn how to create, deploy and manage custom applications without consuming or expanding the need for scarce, expensive IT resources.
Securing Web Applications Made Simple and Scalable
Learn how automated security testing can provide a simple and scalable way to protect your web applications.