At its event at Facebook’s new headquarters on Tuesday, the company’s CEO Mark Zuckerberg introduced Graph Search, a new social search engine that aimed at competing with other search engines on the market today, leveraging Facebook’s already vast knowledge of its members.
Unlike other search engines available on the market today, Graph Search does not index the web: according to Facebook, it quite simply does not need to, since the Open Graph platform already has access to “Almost a million new people every day. 240 billion photos. 1 billion people. 1 trillion connections.” Instead of using a traditional search engine to look for a specific item, Graph Search makes it easy to search through your friend’s interests, in order to deliver search results that might be closer to what you’re looking for.
A search for “TV show”, for example, would bring up the TV shows that most of a user’s friends have “Liked” on Facebook. Facebook has managed to take a complex technology such as Open Graph and make it incredibly simple and searchable. From a blue bar at the top of every page, typing “Mexican Restaurants in Palo Alto, CA” will immediately bring up the restaurants that the most friends have visited or are interested in.
Graph Search also works the other way around, finding people on your friends list that match a specific description or interest. For instance, users are able to conduct searches for “Friends who like Star and Harry Potter”, or should they wish to be more specific, “Friends who live in Palo Alto, CA like Star and Harry Potter”: imagine how much easier this addition will make to plan movie nights or themed parties.
This tool is highly privacy-aware: no content can be searched unless it users already have access to it. In short, Graph Search will not give users access to any content that they couldn’t reach otherwise. In addition, new privacy settings have been put in place in case users which to exclude any of their content from being searched.
To top everything off, Bing is integrated, which means that in case Graph Search doesn’t return any results, it will show you web results from Bing.
If you’re hoping to get your sticky hands on Facebook Graph Search, you may have to wait a little bit longer, since the Beta version of this feature is currently only being rolled out to a small set of users running Facebook in US English. However, Facebook is inviting those who wish to participate in future roll-outs to join the waiting list at: facebook.com/graphsearch