Facebook Graph Search – An introduction
It seems that Facebook wants each journey on the web to begin and end on its site. Graph Search, which was announced by Mark Zuckerberg earlier this month, is a clear statement of intent. This is a search tool designed for the age of the social web, where Internet users spend more time on Facebook and Twitter than they do anywhere else online.
So how does it work? Basically users can search their friends, based on the information they have given Facebook permission to publish. For example, users will be able to quickly find “photos of my friends taken in Barcelona, Spain” or “Restaurants liked by friends in Amsterdam”.
Zuckerberg described Graph Search as the “third pillar” of Facebook, after the news feed and timeline. The announcement – the first since Facebook’s disastrous initial public offering in May last year – was strategically timed, ahead of its fourth-quarter earnings call on 30 January. Facebook has already succeeded in lifting its share price above $30. The announcement of Graph Search also comes as Facebook faces questions about whether its growth to 1 billion users is petering out.
Perhaps Facebook’s worst nightmare is a static social graph. If users aren’t adding new friends or making connections, then their personal network becomes less and less active over time. Terrifyingly for Facebook, that threat is very real. Graph Search it seems is designed to encourage users to add more friends more quickly and become more active, which is vital to Facebook’s success.
Facebook was quick to rebut many of the privacy questions that it expects to be raised about Graph Search, which essentially helps to surface photographs or other data which before may have been buried. According to the terms and conditions of Facebook, Graph Search does not make public any information that was not previously public. Graph Search according to Zuckerberg only helps you find people, places and things and explore Facebook in a whole new way. It does not interfere with your privacy.
With Graph Search, you can look up anything shared with you on Facebook
With Graph Search, you can find people based on things they’ve shared with you, including their interests and profile info. For instance, you can look up people who live in London and what you will see in terms of results will be friends who share their city with you, namely London.
With Facebook Graphic Search, you can now find photos you and your friends have posted or have been tagged in. Your friends on the other hand will see any photos they can see on Facebook, including photos hidden from your timeline.
Graphic Search lets you discover things like restaurants and music through your friends and connections. A simple example: Suppose you are in Amsterdam and you are sort of short on ideas on where to go for dinner. You could quite simply run a search on Facebook to see which restaurants your friends have been to in Amsterdam. As simple as that.
When will Graph Search be available?
To ensure a user experience that will truly be unprecedented, Facebook is currently running a limited beta program for English (US) audiences first. If, as a Facebook user, you would like to be among the first to try it when it’s available in your area, join the waiting list.
As you get started, remember that you can always review stuff on Facebook that relates to you, change the audience for your own content and ask others to remove photos or other posts:
Graph Search improves Facebook’s existing search tool
Graph Search is nothing like Facebook’s existing search tool. Graph Search lets you search for more than you’ve been able to find before. You can use simple phrases to search for sets of people, places and things that match specific characteristics. These search results help you explore connections between people, places and things, and make fun discoveries.
For example, you can now search for friends of your friends in a new city you’ve moved to, look up photos by classmates from a specific time period, or see photos friends and others have shared with you from famous landmarks. None of those things you would have been able to do before.
How to use Graph Search
To get started, make sure you have Graph Search. Graph search is available to a small number of people using Facebook in English (US) in a limited preview for desktop only. It will be available on mobile later in 2013. To sign up to join the preview, visit facebook.com/graphsearch.
To use Graph Search, simply:
- Click on the search bar at the top of the page.
- Begin typing your search. For example, Friends who live in San Francisco and like cycling.
- As you type, a list of search suggestions will appear below the search bar.
- Choose one of the suggested options or finish typing and hit Enter.
Does Graph Search use keywords
Yes. Graph search supports keyword searches, just like before. When you start searching with keywords, you will see suggested people, Pages and apps that match your keywords.
If you see the name of what you’re looking for in the list, select it to go directly to that timeline, Page or app. You may also select one of the suggested searches to see a full list of search options for that suggestion.
What can you search for using Graph Search
With Facebook Graph Search, you can search across people, Pages, friends, photos and other content shared with you on Facebook. You could for example search:
- People who like movies
- Photos of my friends from my high school
- Friends who live in my city
- Restaurants nearby that my friends like
Note that you can also combine phrases together, or add things like locations, timeframes, likes and interests to get more specific. For example, you could search:
- Friends who live in San Francisco and work at Facebook
- Photos of my friends in October 2011
- Movies liked by people who like movies I like
I don’t have Graph Search. How can I get it?
If you’re interested in getting Graph Search, you can visit facebook.com/graphsearch.
Right now Graph Search is only available to a small number of people.