FacebookSearch collates embarrassing Facebook posts

Posted by Emma Woollacott

A new site highlights Facebook's privacy failings by letting users search automatically for embarrassing posts.

FacebookSearch lists status updates containing key words - 'I hate my boss' for example, or 'lost my virginity'. Results pop up with the name and profile picture of the idiot that made the post.

It's part of a site called Openbook, created by San Francisco-based software engineers Will Moffat, Peter Burns and James Home.

"Openbook draws attention to the information Facebook makes public about its users via its search API. Facebook exposed this service on April 21st, 2010," they say.

"Our goal is to get Facebook to restore the privacy of this information, so that this website and others like it no longer work."

The creators make the point that the information is actually very easy to find and collate.

"Openbook is a pure client-side HTML, JS and CSS app that makes simple requests to the Facebook API," they say. "We started working on it late Wednesday night (May 12th 2010) and had the site working within an hour or two."

The site is reminiscent of PleaseRobMe, an app which alerted Foursquare users to the danger of posting their whereabouts online.

It's part of an increasing backlash against Facebook, with users despairing of ever properly managing the site's 150-odd different privacy controls.

According to Graham Cluely of Sophos, 'Delete Facebook account' was the ninth most popular search term on Google on Friday. "Facebook's bosses might be wise to rethink some of their policies, and make their users' privacy and safety online their prime responsibility," he says.