We all have our reasons for using Facebook to learn more about a person we don’t actually know that well. For instance: is your office crush single? Is your blind date a hate-mongering Trump supporter? Is your ex’s new BF as douchey as his bleached tips would suggest? Call it snooping, or stalking, or simply due diligence — but everybody does it.
But some of us are a little more dedicated than others when it comes to digging up juicy digital dirt. Gird thy privacy settings, people, because shit’s about to get weird.
Screenshot via Facebook App
Tracking you down, even if they don’t know your name
Can’t remember the name of the guy or gal you, uh, connected with at that random party? No problem. Facebook’s creepily powerful Graph Search, the semantic search engine Zuck & co. rolled out in 2013, allows people to search content on the entire social network using natural language.
Let’s say all you remember about this person is where they work or went to college (or both). Search for “people who work at X company” or “people who went to X college.” Combine the two for even more narrowed results. Maybe you met them through a friend who works at Thrillist. Search “friends of people who work at Thrillist.”
There are literally hundreds of ways to narrow people down. With some simple sleuthing and a little patience, people can find you based on even the smallest detail.
Seeing where you’ve been…
Here’s where Graph Search starts to get really freakin’ creepy. You can use it to find out what parties someone’s been to, or locations they’ve checked into. All you need to do is type “places X person has been in the past X months/years” or “events X person has attended.”
… and what your interests are
Unless you’ve Fort Knoxed your privacy settings, anyone can easily find out the bands, movies, books, websites, people, or groups you like. All it takes is your name and a few keywords in the search bar, i.e. “pages liked by X person.”
Seeing all the photos you’ve ever liked or commented on… ever
Thanks to good ol’ Graph Search, you can see almost all the photos someone has liked or commented on. Simply search for “photos X person has liked” or “photos X person has commented on,” and it’ll cull a gallery. This is terrifying on so many levels, especially if you have one of those less-than-trusting significant others, but also because it makes it easy for a creeper to identify who you’re closest to.
Getting notifications for everything you do on FB
The “Close Friends” feature allows your current friends to keep uncomfortably close tabs on you. Every time a Close Friend does anything on Facebook — likes or comments on a photo, updates their status, checks in somewhere, etc. — you’ll get a notification. But since Facebook doesn’t tell people when they’ve been added as a Close Friend, there’s no way of knowing who’s getting an up-to-the-second broadcast of your online behavior.
To add a Close Friend, go to their profile, click on the “Friends” drop-down menu next to their name, and select “Close Friends.” Just don’t make it weird, OK?
Creeping on your private profile pic
Man, is there anything more annoying than not being able to see a full-sized profile pic of the person you’re stalking? Privacy settings are the worst, amirite?! Luckily there’s a super-easy way to get around it. Great.
Stalking all your best friends, too
The nine friends that show up on the left side of your profile page are displayed for a reason — they’re the people Facebook has determined you’re closest to socially. That means clicking through to explore their profiles may help someone learn more about you (and see additional photos of you).