Facebook’s Big Reveal: Searching Your Social Graph with “Graph Search”

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News Posted: Tue, Jan 15 2013 1:42 PM
It may come as no surprise to you that Facebook hosts a lot of data, generated by and harvested from its billion users. In fact, Mark Zuckerberg said today that there are 240 billion photos and one trillion connections in Facebook’s social graph. Thus, it makes sense for Facebook to launch its own search tool, called Graph Search.

Zuck was clear that Graph Search is not a Web search tool, but one that is primarily focused on Facebook and its many users. (Of course, Facebook has partnered with Bing to pull in "lite" Web search results for things like weather, so how that partnership evolves over time will be fascinating to watch.) Graph Search is designed to answer users’ very specific questions; examples of search queries Facebook gave include, “Who are my friends in San Francisco” and “People named Chris who are friends of Lars and went to Stanford”. The results are filtered to find the people closest to you, connection-wise, and you can further refine the results using drop-down menus and sub-categories.

Facebook Graph Search

Graph Search seems to be a refined and expanded version of how Facebook already delivers search results for people. For example, if you enter someone’s name in the search box on Facebook, the results will list people you’re most likely to be looking for, such as someone who lives in your town or with whom you share several mutual friends.

Graph Search has four “pillars”--people, places, photos, and interests--and if the demo is to be believed, you really can use simple, common language to find what you’re looking for. For example, you can search for something as simple as “photos of my friends” or “photos of my friends hiking” and get decent results.

Facebook Graph Search

Of course, the first thing everyone will wonder is how privacy will be invaded by Graph Search. Facebook said that the search engine won’t pull profile information that you haven’t shared with friends, so ostensibly your annoying ex won’t be able to search for what movies you like or pull up photos of your new beau, unless he or she is also your Facebook friend.

As is typical of most of Facebook's new features, Graph Search will roll out slowly at first. If you want in on the beta, head over here to sign up.

It remains to be seen how well Graph Search works in the real world, and how much or how little it impacts privacy concerns, but if this thing works as advertised, search just evolved a little.
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Dorkstar replied on Tue, Jan 15 2013 2:42 PM

I actually noticed over the past few months, that my searches started behaving a lot like googles. Where it seemed the search engine knew what I was thinking by the time I started the first character. For instance, if you look at someones profile and don't know them.. lets just say there name is "John Smith". For a certain period of time after you searched for that person, the search saves that information. So next time you type in "Jo" it will automatically pull up John Smith, even though you have no connection to that person whatsoever. So, with that being said, I can see how that must have been the start to this so called graph.

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Drats, no Facebook Phone announcement.

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Dave_HH replied on Tue, Jan 15 2013 7:22 PM

Yeah, that's what the world needs is a Facebook Phone... God help us. I don't this new "feature" kinda creeps me out a bit.

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acarzt replied on Tue, Jan 15 2013 7:42 PM

Aparantly people have so many friends now that they actually need a search tool to filter through them all...

If you need to use this to find your "friends" then how good of friends are you with them really?

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FreeJet replied on Wed, Jan 16 2013 12:31 AM

Well you know what they say about friends:

"The enemy of my enema is my friend so hand me the hose and strap on some goggles"

"Don't walk behind me; I may fart. Don't walk in front of me; I may push you into traffic. Just walk beside me and act like my friend because I still may fart on you or push you into traffic"

"A friend to all is a friend that Aristotle made up because he didn't have any friends...nerd"

"True friends stab you in the Facebook because Oscar Wilde ain't alive now to say otherwise unless of course you find him using Graph Search"

Happy New Year, HH Big Smile

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scolaner replied on Wed, Jan 16 2013 1:56 PM

Well yeah acarzt, think about it. Do you know offhand how many of your friends enjoy, for example, running 5Ks? Or how many are into art films? Or what was the name of that guy you met at your friend's party that you were supposed to email about X or Y? Or...whatever. It's more of a discovery tool that anything, and I think it's actually great for people who use Facebook to actively make new connections, reinforce old ones, and organize fun things.

Provided Facebook nails the privacy part of it...which they probably won't...which would make it a pretty creepy stalker tool...

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Good point acarzt.

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Wharleas replied on Sun, Feb 3 2013 11:47 PM

There are advantages and disadvantages on Facebook Graph Search. More Facebook users are worried about their privacy because of the Graph Search.

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