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Facebook’s search feature has some pretty creepy suggestions



Facebook's search recommendations are creepy, to say the least.
Facebook’s search recommendations are creepy, to say the least.

Image: sean gallup / Getty Images

Another day, another instance of something creepy happening on Facebook

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

The issue was first reported by Belgian security researcher Inti De Ceukelaire, who posted about the search results on Twitter. He noted that searching for “photos of my female friends” in the main Facebook search box indeed turns up photos of women you’re friends with on Facebook. Yet when you search “photos of my male friends” you get a bunch of random images (mostly of memes) that aren’t from your friends.

Mashable tried out the searches and got the same results: searches with the word “female” worked, but searches with “male” did not. 

That discrepancy is troubling enough, but it gets worse. While testing out these searches, the first automatically suggested query was “photos of my female friends in bikinis,” which returned photos of women in bikinis, as well as one image of a topless woman, which would appear to violate Facebook’s rules against nudity. Separately, “photos of my female friends at the beach” was also suggested.

Disturbing, to say the least.

Disturbing, to say the least.

Image: screenshot / karissa bell

Facebook didn’t immediately respond to Mashable’s questions but the company told Fast Company the bikini photo search suggestion was a “bug” that would be fixed.

Those weren’t the only weird inconsistencies in search. While we found you could search your friends list by just typing “male friends” or “female friends” (both searches resulted in a list of friends), the suggested searches underneath were once again very different. 

The suggestions for “female friends” included “female friends photos” and “female friends who are single,” while searching for “male friends” had much more innocuous suggestions for “make friends group” and “make friends around the world.” The last suggestions was “male friends interested in men.”

Results for female friends were wildly different.

Results for female friends were wildly different.

Image: screenshot / karissa bell

More innocuous search results for male searches.

More innocuous search results for male searches.

Image: screenshot / karissa bell

According to Facebook’s support page, its search field recommends searches that are popular on Facebook. “The list that appears when you enter something in the search bar isn’t your search history. It’s a list of relevant predicted results for your search query based on popular searches on Facebook, commonly known as search predictions,” the company writes.

In other words: creepy search suggestions are the result of a lot of people being, well, creepy. That said, it’s notable that Facebook hasn’t done anything to discourage this type of behavior and is, in fact, encouraging these searches.

h/t: The Next Web

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