Facebook Graph Search is finally up in beta mode. However, it is quite different than what the people had speculated. They haven’t exactly put their nose against Google. What they have arrived with is completely different from Google, or other search engines for that matter. It is a new kind of search.
Facebook Graph Search will currently focus on Photos, People, Places and Interests, as announced by Mark Zuckerberg. So if you want to search for say people who have same interests like a TV show or dining out, Graph search will produce the relevant results for you. Your queries will be like – ‘Did John Doe like a particular show? Or a particular restaurant? Or a particular mall? Facebook Graph Search will reply the queries based on the likes.
Facebook will in a way refine the search. For instance, when you do a Google search on the theaters in New York, what you get is a single dimensional view mainly based on the keywords and the search engine’s perceived relevance of the results. With Graph Search your query will be like: “theaters preferred my friends in New York”. It will produce a set of theaters liked by your friends. Both kinds of searches have very different uses.
Well, you may say, you can get something like this on other social media sites as well. They will also show you the places liked by your friends. The difference is the number of users Facebook has and the myriad of refinements – ‘Theaters liked by friends who live in New York’, ‘Friends who are friends with people working for a particular company’, ‘Executive who turned into company founders’ and the like. Drill in more and you will find replies for queries like theaters liked by your single friends, married friends, gay friends…
The question is whether such searches will only have curiosity value, but will really provide something substantial. There are people who jump onto Facebook every day, but have provided no information on the doctor, plumber or dentist they prefer. We can believe that there will be very few who have disclosed such information. Then those people should have a Facebook presence. Will Facebook searches provide any real insight then?
Facebook is very well aware of the challenge and hopes that the Graph Search will encourage people to like their connections. If they do that, it will indeed add value to Facebook search.
At the very least, the feature will allow people to search within Facebook better. For instance, they will be able to find out all the images they have liked. It will add to already existing features like timeline and newsfeed.
This will be the first ever beta product of Facebook, requiring a waitlist. It will be first available to users in English and gradually extended to other languages.
Facebook has stressed that there will be no privacy issues with the Graph Search and only the information people see regularly see on Facebook will displayed by search. However, some people will indeed be surprised as the feature will make it easier to dig out information.
For now, the search will be limited to people, photos, places and interests. It may be extended later. Although the search results will be personalized, generic queries, as Facebook says, will produce fairly common results.
As about Facebook Graph Search challenging Google and other search engines, there must be enough space for both. This is a social search engine, powered by Facebook’s vast user base, and not a conventional web search engine. So, both will keep working on separate domains. It is worth noting here that Facebook has roped in Bing to provide web-based search results for the queries that Facebook fails to find an answer of on its own.
It can be said the Facebook will complement Google and others on local search, whole for broad queries, and the latter will be better bet.Facebook Graph Search - More of a Social Search!,