Facebook is allegedly letting users search for the photos of only their female friends while a similar search for the male friends brings up unrelated and randomised results. The bug was accidentally discovered by a Belgian white-hat hacker going by Inti De Ceukelaire, followed by multiple reports by other Facebook users.
The ‘sexist’ glitch on Facebook is affecting the search results based on the gender of the friends. If you type “photos of my female friends”, Facebook will show you random photos from your female friends. However, if you replace the word “female” with “male” in the search query, the resulting photo selection is not what you expected. There will be photos from across the platform with some association with the word male.
For example, while trying to replicate the glitch, FE Tech found Facebook bringing up random memes and unsavoury content that have the word “male” mentioned. Also, the photos do not necessarily belong to any of the groups, pages, or profiles that we do not follow. If this is not bizarrely pressing enough, Facebook would even ask you if you misspelt the word “female” with “male”.
The Belgian hacker, Inti De Ceukelaire, has had an infamous past of pulling pranks on the Internet, only to make serious security or privacy anomalies publicly known. In 2017, he outed the exploit in Facebook’s search feature that let him discover the personal email address of the present First Lady of the USA, Melania Trump. He even collected the expired domain names mentioned in many tweets by US President Donald Trump and redirected them to music videos that satirise the connection between Trump and Russia.
This time around, Inti De Ceukelaire discovered the Facebook bug by chance, he told The Next Web on a telephonic conversation. He operates a website called StalkScan.com that essentially lets anyone see what kind of data their Facebook profiles are leaking or compromising. The profile database is just another exploit of Facebook’s Graph Search feature that the company has downscaled over the past years.
“I can’t believe this feature is still working,” said Ceukelaire adding that nobody needs the questionable feature anymore. Graph Search was launched in 2013 and has been remade several times except for the core utility of letting users search on Facebook with the help of natural language queries. The company has been in the process of minimising the extent of the Graph Search feature, however, the new bug has raised the concerns again.
Facebook has not yet acknowledged the bug despite the reports that multiple users have confirmed, in addition to Ceukelaire’s dismay.