On Tuesday, January 15 2013, Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg announced it’s plans to move forward with an upgraded search tool called Graph Search, still currently in limited BETA release. Facebook’s search feature has been regarded as constrained, to say the least, and Graph Search is lightyears away in terms of functionality. It really has that COOL factor because of all the new types of connections that can be made with data that you and your friends have willingly shared. So what exactly will the Facebook Graph Search bring to the table?
“Today we’re really just starting off with a few basic types of things you can search for: people, photos, places, pages for businesses, and that’s just the start. We just view this as a project we’re gunna be working on for years and years to come but as it gets more completed will just be an amazing resource for alot of people around the world to use.” – Mark Zuckerberg
Graph Search will allow you to find people, places, photos, and interests based on your current connections. It’s really in its infancy stage and will undoubtibly be expanded into different areas, but there’s some new and unexpected possibilities presented by it (Overdue maybe?). Mark Zuckerberg labeled it as being a new “Pillar” of Facebook, that will be a central part of the user experience, comparing its importance to the News Feed and Timeline. So what will you be able to search for?
Interesting Searches (Examples):
- Friends that live in Europe
- Bands that my friends listen to
- What movie should I watch?
- Friends who like vegetarian food?
- Friends of friends that enjoy fishing
- Photos taken in Miami, FL in 2008
- Spanish speaking authors living in Canada
*A main part of its appeal is discovering all the potential ways to find new connections.
As Tom Stocky, Product Director at Facebook put it, it will “make the world feel smaller,” as personalized results become a larger part of the user experience. Graph Search pulls data from 1 billion profiles, 24 billion photos and 1 trillion connections. As of right now it’s only in English, but searches are done using natural language” which just means to type the questions as you would say them out loud such as “Friends who own dogs and cats.” Results will be shown, or ranked, based on connections, likes, ratings and other factors.
What About Privacy?
Mark Zuckerberg has made it a point to declare Privacy as their main concern, and stated that they are taking it “really seriously.” The information that can be accessed by others is what they are currently sharing, in other words, stuff that you were already sharing will be part of the Graph Search results. “No one can see anything that they wouldn’t have otherwise been able to see,” said Facebook public policy manager Nicky Jackson Colaco in an interview with VentureBeat. “We don’t want people to be surprised. It’s really bad for them … and it’s bad for us.” Here is a video by Facebook going over how privacy settings work with this new search and how to manage your information on Facebook.
Facebook will be integrating Bing Search into its search, so if a search is outside of the Graph Search scope, it will display search results from Microsoft’s search engine Bing. Since last May’s launch of Bings sidebar, they have been working towards displaying relevant Facebook information, and this proves to be another step towards collaboration between the two internet giants, with hopes of increasing user numbers.
Time will tell how Graph Search evolves, but it is definitely a notable growth spurt in Facebook’s evolution, as a new “Pillar” is raised.