Facebook might be a world-dominating tech giant today, but it began its life as a humble — and deeply creepy —platform called Fashmash. That early iteration of the platform was designed for Harvard University students to rate their female colleagues by physical appearance. Facebook has gone to great lengths to distance itself from those early days, but a recently discovered glitch that allowed users to search for photos of their female friends brought the company’s past back in an uncomfortable way.
According to security researcher Inti De Ceukelaire, he was able to filter his photo search by female users, but not by male ones. Tests by other users confirmed this, but that’s not even the worst part. When reporters from Fast Company searched for “photos of my female friends,” Facebook finished their search queries with “in bikinis” or “at the beach.” The same did not happen for male users.
For its part, Facebook said that this happened because of a glitch, and that the company is “always working to show people the search results and predictions most relevant to them.” However, glitch or not, this is an extremely creepy function that’s all-too reminiscent of Facebook’s own roots.
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