Berlin - Facebook has extended its expanded search function - until now only available on English-language versions of the social networking site - to other languages, which means it's now that much easier for others to look up the sins of their friends' youth.
Until now, Graph Search was limited to pages or people. Now searches can focus on individuals, their preferences, interests, photos and other personal information.
Searches can be refined however the user wants, meaning something as abstract as "photos of people from New York who live in Berlin, like football and rock music, and know my girlfriend" are now possible.
In theory, strangers shouldn't be able to find anything that wasn't already allowed for public view. But it is now possible to do searches for others based on their preferences.
That means, if a user clicked "Like" on the site of a political party three years ago and has long since forgotten about it, it can still be pulled up without much trouble. That could have unpleasant ramifications if one's allegiance has since changed.
Privacy watchers like the Electronic Frontier Foundation urge people to be sparing with the personal information they share.
Indeed, it's a good opportunity to go through one's Facebook profile. Searching it allows users to see icons which show which information is open to the public, certain friends or only the user himself. Just clicking on the icon can change the setting.
Even here there are limits. One's name and profile picture are always public.
Looking through one's profile provides the opportunity to remove old or forgotten likes. Note that the current version of Facebook allows users to control their privacy settings with an icon at the top right of the screen.
The search also includes all pictures labelled as public, even if they've been removed from the timeline.
To get rid of embarrassing photos once and for all, be sure to delete them properly. It's not possible to remove pictures posted by others in which you are marked, but it's still possible to at least edit out the identification.