Facebook Graph Search

Our lives as online practitioners forever changed when a young Harvard dropout by the name of Mark Zuckerberg created Facebook. The onus on Likes and Shares as social media became an incredibly powerful channel for marketing has been huge.

This is, I’m sure, old news. However with the recent announcement of Facebook Graph Search, our online identities and the information that comes with them could be about to completely transform.

1. What is Graph Search?

First thing’s first – Graph Search isn’t here to lock horns with Google or any other web search engine. Rather, it gives users access to an aggregation of the sort of underlying information that the search engines can’t bring you. Using Open Graph (the feature that shares your Facebook activity) Graph Search will essentially turn your Likes, Shares and Comments into searchable data.

It means to personalise the search game. As Facebook innocently suggests, this new tool can be used to “start a book club or find a gym buddy”. As Gizmodo points out, its uses could stretch to the more sinister end of the search spectrum. Do you want to find out who is single, living in your city and sharing your interests? Snooping just got easier! Using a selection of filters you’ll be able to find out just about anything about anyone on Facebook – provided they’ve opted to share said information.

2. What if what I’m searching for isn’t on Facebook?

Bad news Google, Graph Search will display results from Bing should it fail to help with your search query. Not only is Facebook offering the chance to easily search through information not available to Google, they’re saddling up with a competitor.

3. What are the issues surrounding privacy?

Facebook are no strangers to controversy when it comes to privacy, so upon launching this new feature they made sure to stress that the results of your search will return only content that you already had permission to access. The feature therefore does not appear to be a means of circumventing the privacy settings.

4. Who is in trouble?

Well Facebook’s main rival may be Google, but as stated Graph Search isn’t at this moment in time being implemented to take on the search behemoth at its own game. Zuckerberg himself said “I don’t think people are going to start coming to Facebook to do Web search” however there will surely be some interested parties waiting to see the full impact of this new tool, perhaps none more so than Yelp. As TechHive illustrates the power and immediacy of searching for brands and services Liked (and therefore recommended) by your friends and acquaintances.

5. Where to next?

Facebook needs to make money. It’s at the mercy of its investors. So it would make sense to try and enter the very lucrative world of search. They host countless amounts of user data; the only real issue is how to monetize it without infringing upon people’s privacy and subsequently driving users from the site.

The evolution of this tool and how it interacts with ads and marketing (something stringently denied will take place by Facebook at time of launch) will go some way towards illustrating the direction of the company.

For more about Graph Search: Facebook’s About Page.

photo credit: niallkennedy via photopin cc
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