Social graphs are representations of the relationships between individuals online, who are represented by a collection of their personal information. Data like names, dates of birth, place of residence, phone numbers and other types of information are typically retained in these collections (Sporny 2012). Connections exist between all sorts of individuals, organisations and services. Facebook in particular uses social graphs to automatically share and use identifying information with other people in websites in order to make using the internet and establishing relationships easier. But private or sensitive information could be vulnerable due to the nature of the Social Graph system.There are both pros and cons to the use of social graphs.
- It is far more convenient when creating a new account on an unfamiliar website to be able to share information from Facebook and skip the process.
- It is easier to compare shared interests with people you know to strengthen your relationship, and you may even discover a shared interest with someone you don’t know well.
- Sensitive information may be given to other websites or advertisers that you would usually be unwilling to part with, such as place of residence or phone numbers. With the Social Graph system, it is possible that this information would be shared without you being aware of it.
- Because some information in Social Graphs automatically updates when using the internet, you may accidentally reveal to people you know something you are interested in but would rather keep private.
- It may be easier for certain people to find personal information on you that you would rather keep to yourself and your personal relationships.
The Social Graph system is helpful in making the internet easier to use, but its effects on personal privacy can be very undesirable.
Dickinson, B 2012, ‘So what the heck is the ‘social graph’ Facebook keeps talking about?’, Business Insider Australia, 3 March, viewed 3rd September 2016, http://www.businessinsider.com.au/explainer-what-exactly-is-the-social-graph-2012-3?r=US&IR=T
Manu Sporny 2012, What is linked data?, video, 16 June, viewed 3rd September 2016, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4x_xzT5eF5Q&feature=youtu.be