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What is Facebook Graph Search?



Facebook announced Graph Search today, a new Facebook search tool that lets users quickly search through friend’s photos, likes, activities and entire Facebook lives to quickly find shared interests, create pages of friends and look at photos of friends based on their activities and profiles.

So, “What is Facebook Graph Search in simple terms?”

Graph Search is Facebook’s attempt to help people make more connections, find relevant info and make decisions without going to Google or waiting for the answer.

Facebook Graph Search is like bringing Yelp and Angie’s list to Facebook, with a dash of smart photo filtering and putting that friend who knows the best music and movies in your computer. When Facebook takes the service mobile, and if it adds some voice recognition, it could beat out Siri for finding friends and finding things to do nearby.

Read: How to Sign Up for Facebook Graph Search

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg describes the new tool saying, “Graph Search is a completely new way to search for information.” If Facebook doesn’t have an answer their partnership with Bing will search the web in your Facebook tab.

Facebook Graph Search is rolling out slowly, and users can sign up for to be on the wait-list for early access, but right now the feature is only available to a limited number of users.

What Can I Do with Facebook Graph Search?

When Facebook Graph Search rolls out to your account, you’ll see a larger search bar that lets you search your Social Graph, or better put, your friends and their interests. The tool looks like it will work best for friends who are friends with heavy Facebook users because it relies on photos, likes and other activities being public on Facebook, and including date and location info.

Facebook Graph Seach on Facebook

Here’s what Facebook Graph Search will look like.

Facebook Graph Search focuses on four areas, people, photos, places and interests.

A sample search might bring up Friends who live in San Francisco so they can help me plan a summer trip.

Facebook Social Graph

Social Graph quickly finds friends and interests.

But the tool goes further. Instead of asking friends about their favorite places and waiting for a response you can search for Restaurants your friends like in a specific city to get instant results.

Another example Facebook offered is using the Graph Search to find a new medical professional. Users don’t need to search for Dentists on Yelp and ask friends on Facebook, they can just search for Dentists my friends like. Of course this requires a big buy in to Facebook, as their dentist must be on Facebook and they must also like their dentist. Imagine this scenario building out further to contractors, lawn mowers and babysitters and you may have a personalized Angie’s List and Yelp in one spot.

Facebook Graph Search Photos

Find photos of friends with a simple query.

Another cool way we’ll be able to use Facebook Graph Search is by searching for photos in smarter ways. For instance, users can search for photos of themselves and a specific friend, or for photos of friends before a specific date to find photos from college or childhood.

Facebook users can also get recommendations on what to watch, listen to and what concerts to go to based on friends’ interests. Here are a few ways Facebook users can use Facebook Graph Search when it rolls out.

  • software engineers who live in San Francisco and like skiing
  • people who like things I like
  • photos of my family
  • photos of my friends taken in New York
  • Indian restaurants liked by my friends from India
  • bars in Dublin, Ireland liked by people who live in Dublin, Ireland
  • restaurants in New York liked by chefs
  • People named Chris who are friends of Lars Rasmussen and went to Stanford
  • music my friends like
  • languages my friends speak
  • movies liked by people who like movies I like

This is just the start of Facebook Graph Search, and Facebook plans on expanding the experience after testing.

Facebook Graph Search for iPhone and Android

Facebook Graph Search logoFacebook listed a mobile version of Graph Search under “Tomorrow”in a slide at the end of the presentation. This doesn’t literally mean Facebook Graph Search is coming to the iPhone tomorrow, but that it is in the plans.

Hopefully Facebook will roll out a mobile version of Graph Search fast, as it is arguably the best place for many of the examples given. Without a mobile component there is no way to spontaneously look up restaurants your friends like nearby or to find a new movie while standing in front of Redbox.

Based on past rollouts, it wouldn’t be surprising if Facebook Graph Search for iPhone landed first, followed by Android later.

Facebook Graph Search and Privacy

Facebook says that Graph Search is privacy aware, and that it will only search for content that has been shared with you. This can limit the usefulness of the service, especially combined with users who have not updated their interests since leaving MySpace for  Facebook seven years ago.


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