Facebook has stopped using Graph Search, the search function that allows users to search in detail for photos, pages or other Facebook users. The tool was mainly used by researchers and journalists.
Several researchers report that the tools they have built with Graph Search no longer work. Among other things, research collective Bellingcat says that “all tools around Graph Search are offline.” Facebook did not inform users of the tools in advance that they would be changed.
Graph Search was an api that users could use to search specifically for texts, but also to filter results. For example, with Graph Search it was possible to see who gave a certain photo a Like, or when a specific user had been to a certain location. The tool was largely unknown to average users, but was very useful for researchers. For example, they used it to find out where air strikes took place in Yemen. With the Graph Search api, URLs with the correct search terms could be created. Researchers often built their own tools around it, such as StalkScan.
Facebook tells Vice that it ‘wants to focus more on improving keyword search’, the standard search function in Facebook. The social medium wants to focus more on privacy in the future. The company has also been trying for some time to prevent companies from using automatic tools to retrieve user data on a large scale, as happened during the Cambridge Analytica scandal. Possibly stopping Graph Search also has to do with that.