After a teaser from Facebook to “Come see what we’re building”, the web was awash with speculation. Ideas on what it could be ranged from a smartphone to redesign of a popular component. In addition to its existing two pillars of Timeline and the Social Graph, Facebook has announced its third pillar named “Graph Search.”
This event was met with great excitement and hope. Stocks were trading at $31.25 before the event, up by 1%. Zuckerberg began by extolling the virtues of Facebook’s “live” database, which led to the development of the Graph Search. As Google has its search engine and Apple has Siri, this is a natural progression for Facebook to rein in some of their competition too.
The Graph Search is still under development. It is being rolled out in its Beta version. You can sign up for a wait list at www.facebook.com/graphsearch
Graph Search is supposedly filling a gap that Google search can’t fill yet. It allows you to search through photos, people, interests, and places. For example, Graph Search can be used for dating if you look up “friends of friends who are single.” This search can also extend to searching for professional colleagues as well.
Another example that was quoted by Zuckerberg,
A few months ago, he and his wife Priscilla were trying to determine which photos to use on their holiday cards. He looked up photos of him and Priscilla, and Graph Search pulled up a grid of photos. The photos with the most “likes,” engagements were pushed to the top. “It’s such a warm and engaging experience,” he says.
The Graph Search will pull results from Microsoft’s Bing for queries that it cannot answer. There are plans to integrate this search engine with Instagram at a later stage. Speaking of photographs, you cannot opt out of the Graph Search, though you can untag pictures of yourself (that you do not want to be discovered). For those concerned about their privacy, this search can only look through content that you have authorized to share.
As Facebook’s has a strong ex-Google brigade led by Sheryl Sandberg, this move escalates the competition between these two companies for advertisers. Monetization is a key issue for Facebook. Google has been able to handle this more successfully. The success of the Graph Search will depend on the level of engagement of its users. The more its users post within Facebook, the less will be the need for a Google search.
You can watch a promo video about it on https://www.facebook.com/about/graphsearch.