Facebook’s search function has some pretty scary suggestions

Another day, another example of something scary happening on Facebook.

The latest: a strange “bug” in the Facebook search tool that allows you to search for photos of women, but not men. It suggests some pretty alarming search terms.

The issue was first reported by a Belgian security researcher Inti of Ceukelaire, who posted the search results on Twitter. He noted that searching for “photos of my friends” in Facebook’s main search box will find photos of women you are friends with on Facebook. Yet when you search for “pics of my male friends” you get a bunch of random images (mostly memes) that are not of your friends.

Mashable tried the searches and got the same results: searches for “female” worked, but searches for “male” did not work.

This gap is quite disturbing, but it is getting worse. When testing these searches, the first automatically suggested query was “pictures of my friends in bikinis,” which returned pictures of women in bikinis, as well as a picture of a topless woman, which would appear to violate the Facebook’s rules against nudity. Facebook deleted the image as a result of Mashable’s investigation.

Separately, “photos of my friends at the beach” were also suggested.

Worrisome, to say the least.
Credit: screenshot / karissa bell

Facebook did not immediately respond to Mashable’s questions, but the company said Fast business the bikini photo search suggestion was a “bug” that would be fixed.

These weren’t the only weird inconsistencies in the research. Although we found out that you can search your friends list by simply typing in “male friends” or “female friends” (both searches resulted in a friend list), the searches suggested below were still one. very different times.

Suggestions for “girlfriends” included “pictures of girlfriends” and “single girlfriends”, while the search for “male friends” contained much more innocuous suggestions for “making a group of friends” and “making new friends”. in the whole world “. The last suggestion was “male friends interested in men”.

The results for the friends were very different.

Credit: screenshot / karissa bell

More innocuous search results for male searches.

Credit: screenshot / karissa bell

According to the Facebook support page, its search box recommends popular searches on Facebook. “The list that appears when you enter something in the search bar is not your search history. It is a list of predicted results relevant to your search query based on popular searches on Facebook, commonly known as predictions of. research, “writes the company.

In other words: spooky search suggestions are the result of a lot people being, well, scary. That said, it should be noted that Facebook has done nothing to discourage this type of behavior and in fact encourage such research.

UPDATE: February 14, 2019 at 1:03 p.m. PST: Facebook sent the following statement to Mashable in response to poor results for the term “photos of male friends”:

“This is a bug that we are working to fix. We are always working to show people the search results and predictions that are most relevant to them.”

UPDATE: February 14, 2019 at 1:05 p.m. PST: Facebook sent Mashable the following statement in response to search suggestions for “photos of my friends in bikinis”:

“Facebook search predictions represent what people can search for on Facebook, but don’t necessarily reflect actual content on Facebook. We know that just because something doesn’t violate our community standards doesn’t mean people want to see it, so we’re constantly working to improve research to make sure predictions are relevant to people.

h / t: The Next Web

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