Facebook Announces New ‘Graph Search’

By on January 15, 2013

Mark Zuckerberg on stage introducing Facebook's new Graph Search

Tuesday Mark Zuckerberg took the stage to announce something new from Facebook. What could it be? Many people speculated it might be a new Facebook phone, or a new mobile or ipad application, or possibly a new video chat. However, what Zuckerberg announced was quite different than above.

Zuckerberg introduced Facebook’s new Graph Search. Graph search is an entirely new way of searching, or rather a new way of asking questions on the internet.

New graph search from facebook

Graph Search is not keyword based like Google or Bing. Unlike traditional search, results are not uniform based on the search term, but rather unique based on who is searching and what is relavent to them. A search term such as ‘Restaurants in Chicago that my friends like’ will likely give different results to Dave than it will for Jessica, unless they share many common friends, to which their results may be similar. This is because Graph Search is based on people and your connections, your community, and your interests, not just keywords related to your search.

The power for Facebook’s Graph Search also lies in the fact that you can get very particular with your searches, and it will provide you with exactly what you are looking for. “Restaurants in San Francisco, Calif., liked by my friends from India.” And up comes a list.

However, it doesn’t have to be limited to your friends. You can search “restaurants in SF, California, liked by Culinary Institute of America graduates.” This returns an array of restaurants — but not based on your friends. This is narrow search that Google and other don’t do.

Graph Search also introduces a powerful new tool for finding people. Interests, education, relationship status are just some of the many criteria you can specify.For example: “Friends of my friends who are single males in San Francisco, Calif., and who are from India.” That gives a very select group of people. The results also provide nothing that you could not already find on Facebook (no privacy rules are being broken.)

Graph search

Zuckerberg says it’s a powerful recruiting tool. Friends of current employees is a good place to start with recruiting. For example, “NASA Ames Research Center employees who are friends with Facebook employees.”
Graph Search is also a great way to find out more about your current connections. For example, a search of “photos of my friends before 1990″ would bring up quite a comical selection of old photos.
90's pictures from Facebook's graph search


The interests search using Graph Search is also very powerful. A simple search such as “TV shows liked by Software Engineers” will display a number of TV shows that software engineers like. “Languages my friends speak” will bring up a list of languages the most of your friends speak.

All results using Facebook’s Graph Search are unique to you, which is the unique feature that makes it most powerful. This is a different way of thinking and may be the next big thing for Facebook.

Facebook emphasizes that you can only see the content you can already see on Facebook. Clearly, Facebook is mindful of a possible privacy backlash.

Zuckerberg calls it “one of the coolest things we’ve done in awhile.”

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