Facebook Graph Search beta has just been announced with the aim of making things on the popular social networking web site easier to browse through. CEO Mark Zuckerberg calls the new tool the ‘third pillar’ of the company’s ecosystem, after News Feed and Timeline.
So what is Graph Search and what can it accomplish? The tool, still in beta, provides a new way to navigate the multitude of connections on Facebook. It goes a long way in compacting searches and simplifying things, down to exactly what we might be looking for. To begin with, it accepts queries in simple English, the only language available at the moment, and allows people to key in phrases, or combinations of them, in order to see results.
Secondly, it has four major areas of focus – people, photos, places, and interests. This means that users can type in things like ‘photos of my friends before 1999’ to pull up all the pictures uploaded by their friends taken before the specified period. Users will even be able to discover new things by entering, for instance, ‘people who live in San Francisco and like skiing.’
This will make results very personal, and two people searching for the same thing will almost certainly end up getting very different results. The emphasis is on the ability to solve for atypical, ‘slightly nuanced and social’ questions that wouldn’t generally be considered when using web search engines; things that the Internet might not be able to solve, so to speak.
The new service will manifest as a much larger search bar in blue at the top of the page. Like Google’s auto-complete, the social web site’s service features a drop down with suggestions. Unfortunately, it is only available to a very limited number of people who use the SNS in English. Furthermore, the company is quick to point out that the new tool complies with all privacy settings and users can only search for content that has been shared with them.
Facebook Graph Search beta has opened its doors and those who want to test out the new functionality it provides can get themselves on the program’s waiting list. This is by no means a completed or final version of what we are to see, and the company says it will collect feedback from this test run to make the product better, with the ultimate goal of pushing out the new service to everyone.