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Openbook: See What People On Facebook Share To The World

Want to see what people share on Facebook with the entire world — perhaps without realizing it? There’s a new site that makes this easy, Openbook.

Look At The Embarrassing Updates!

Last week, I explored the issue of how Facebook’s own “Posts  By Everyone” search feature revealed people who might be sharing material they didn’t intend for the entire world to see. I’d strongly encourage people to read it: Facebook’s “Posts By Everyone” Feature: Do People Realize They’re Sharing To The World?

Openbook allows you to see the same thing without having to be in Facebook at all. When you go to Openbook, it automatically shows search results for “cheated test.” These potentially embarrassing updates seem intended to illustrate how those behind the Openbook feel Facebook has changed the previous privacy settings of this information.

There are two issues with that.

Some People Choose To Overshare — And Do On Twitter, Too

First, people share similarly embarrassing updates on Twitter with the entire world. My previous article illustrated this. It’s easy to find people on Twitter broadcasting tweets about cheating on tests, being hungover or that they “hate my boss.” So, Facebook is hardly unique here.

Second, some people are Facebook do deliberately choose to share their updates. They weren’t tricked into doing it. They deliberately selected that option, which has been offered for almost a year now.

But Facebook DID Suggest New Settings

Still, I have similar concerns to those at Openbook that people on Facebook may be sharing without realizing it, due to Facebook’s privacy changes — especially those last December, which may have caused some people to shift to sharing to the world without realizing it. And again, my previous article explains all this in great detail.

Who Else Has This Data?

Openbook is making use of data from Facebook itself. Last April, Facebook began allowing any search service to take in updates that have an “everyone” setting. Of the real time search engines out there, OneRiot has trumpeted its use of Facebook search data the most, with a blog announcement at the end of April. However, OneRiot is designed to show the hottest links that are shared on social networks, not to find actual updates that are issued.

In contrast, a place like Google Real-Time Search is expressly designed to show updates. Currently, Google will show updates that are made to Facebook fan pages (see Google Real Time Search Now Shows Updates From Facebook Fan Pages). But Google’s deal with Facebook did not allow for it to pull in personal updates, as is the case with Bing (see Google & Bing’s Unequal Facebook Status Update Deals).

Now that anyone can search against personal updates from Facebook, potentially Google could start showing these. But I did a test, and I don’t see them showing yet. I also suspect that Google might not be able to use the standard search “API” interface to pull results, because it has so many searches that it might overwhelm this.

Bing hasn’t yet launched a way to search for Facebook updates, be they on fan pages or personal ones. But since it has a deal allowing searching against both types, that’s something I expect will come.

For related news, see Techmeme.


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