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Creep on, U.S.: Facebook Graph Search and your #soulmate

Facebook’s new search tool, “Graph Search,” is meant to connect you to friends, “friends,” or friends of “friends” in an unprecedented and eerily intimate way. If you’re looking to “start a book club” or “find a gym buddy” in your neighborhood, the only thing stopping you is your unpaid internet bill.

But the tool also allows for more curious, detailed Facebook searches based on interests and profiles, such as “men over age 25 from Philadelphia who like movies and beer.” Which makes Graph Search as creepy as it is informative. It is especially untoward as a matchmaking service.

“Facebook Graph Search eliminates the need for OkCupid, because you stalk people on Facebook all day long,” Carli Blau, the sex, dating and relationship Expert at JustBlauMe.com, tells Vocativ. ”The more detailed and precise your profile, the more success you’ll find.”

Like with the original Facebook search, creepers can still keep an eye on their friends’ profiles and photos via the search bar. But users can now also weed out certain friends from their vast collection to determine which ones like, say, apples, or have been to Kansas City, Kansas, or are fans of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. And users across the country can search for people nearby (or in another state) who share interests in, for example, waterskiing and Wonder Bread. The tool works by amassing bytes of information that Facebook users share publicly. That’s data from over 137 million daily active users in North America.

And yes, you can search relationship status. Wisely, it is one of the core search categories on Graph Search, which means that if your currently single soulmate must also like Purell hand sanitizer and Renaissance art then Facebook Graph Search will make sure you find one another. One amusing Tumblr covers Actual Facebook Graph Searches, but the creepiest Graph Searches are the ones that yield just a few profiles, usually involving the tag “single.” These sorts of searches make it especially easy to shoot off a private message to a potential partner in the hopes of a response and maybe even a date. One, two and three-person results abound, for example:

  • There is one single woman over the age of 25 in the United States who is an actress and also likes guinea pigs.
  • There are three single men under 30 in New York City who like banana pudding.
  • There is one single woman under 30 in New York City who likes the Boston Red Sox and playing the guitar.
  • There is one single man under 30 who likes fracking and Chipotle Mexican Grill.

Of course, a soulmate search on Graph Search is not as all-encompassing or as instant as it’s made out to be because not everyone shares all of their likes and dislikes on Facebook. Many users may enjoy a particular movie or food but are too lazy to “like” that item on Facebook. And the tool is further limited by the search terms that Facebook allows in its pool of phrases. A quick search reveals that we can’t search for “men under age 25 who like the drug meth,” but we can learn more about “men under 25 who like the religious movement Methodism or [rapper] Method Man,” since Facebook tries to intelligently correct our search with pre-fabricated, pre-liked pages:

Screen Shot 2013-07-08 at 1.06.46 PM

Because Graph Search works in part via shared likes, the sorts of likes you choose may become more important, especially if you’re looking for a match. “When it comes to hits, common, popular things that people like do best,” Blau says. For example: “Summertime, going to the park and restaurants.”

Given that the search tool may help users narrow in on specific profiles, complete with first and last names, location and photos, matchmakers say there are real dangers in using the social-networking site as a matchmaking tool. “Don’t friend someone before you meet them,’ explains Beth Mandell, VP of marketing and matching at VIP Life, a matchmaking service for “exceptional, relationship-oriented” people.

So, go on: Hide your strange interests and embarrassing photos with this instruction guide.

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