Steven Maasz's comment on a post led the social media giant to ban him for seven days.
NEW YORK - Users who may have grown frustrated with Facebook's rudimentary search feature are getting an updated version designed to make it easier to find people, places and photos on the site.
Facebook unveiled its social search tool in January, but only made it available to a small fraction of its 1.1 billion users, as its engineers continued to tweak and test it. Over the next few weeks, starting on Monday, the company is rolling out the social search tool, called "Graph Search," to everyone whose language is set to U.S. English.
Unlike searches on Google, which are good for finding specific things like roasted kale recipes or Mizuno running shoes, Facebook's tool is most useful in unearthing information about your social circles. Graph Search lets you find friends who live in San Francisco who are vegan. Friends of friends who live near you and like hiking. Photos of your boyfriend taken before you met him in 2010. Nearby restaurants that your friends like -- and so on.
But soon after Facebook launched the tool, the Internet had a field day with less innocuous and more embarrassing queries, showing just how much information people reveal about themselves on the site, intentionally or not. Care to find out which brand of condoms your friends prefer? Graph Search might tell you.
A blog called actualfacebookgraphsearches.tumblr.com posted a collection of searches ranging from "married people who like prostitutes" to "current employers of people who like racism." Both yielded more than 100 people.
While it is possible that some of those Facebook users are fully aware that what they've shared is easily searchable, it is likely that some are not. It's easy to click "like" on a page and forget about it, and it's even easier to assume that no one will search through your photos from party days at the Burning Man festival five years ago.
To avoid any unpleasantness, Facebook plans to notify users that it's "getting easier for people to find photos and other things you've shared with them" along with a reminder that they can check "who can see my stuff" under their privacy settings.
"The goal is to avoid bad surprises," said Nicky Jackson Colaco, privacy and safety manager at Facebook. But she stressed Facebook's view that the search tool "indexes information differently than we have ever been able to do before, in a really positive way."
It's easier, for example, to find a long-lost classmate with a common name, or to find common interests with friends of friends.
Facebook does not currently show users ads based on what they are searching for, but the company may do in the future. As Google has shown, it's a lucrative business. Research firm eMarketer estimates that Google will take nearly 42 percent of all U.S. digital ad spending this year, well above Facebook's share of less than 7 percent.
With its new search tool, Facebook is clearly trying to divert traffic and ad spending from its rival. Whether this will work will become more clear as more people begin using it.
More Facebook Stories
Researchers at Brunel University in London say they can predict personality traits based on the topics people post about on Facebook.
A Wisconsin woman was not feeling well when she went to the bathroom and realized the source of her pain.
Target thrilled fans of designer Lilly Pulitzer when they announced a collaboration back in January. But when the demand outweighed the supply, many customers were left disappointed and accused people of scooping up the merchandise to resell it on internet marketplaces like eBay.
A woman who had her phone stolen from her purse said selfies from the phone started showing up on her Facebook page.
Facebook is giving more options to decide what happens to users' accounts after they die.
First, Facebook was the "it" girl of social media. Then, Twitter came into the spotlight and now Instagram has officially topped Twitter in popularity. The List's Ariel Wesler talks to social media expert, Chris Kline (ABC15) about the major shift and what to expect in 2015. See the full story now, on The List!
We asked Facebook fans to submit pictures of themselves hugging their pets for National Hug Day. Here are the photos!
Today is National Cheese Lovers Day! We asked our Facebook fans to share what their favorite cheeses are and here are the results.
Since it's going viral again, a reminder: the Facebook "copyright" warning is a hoax.