Facebook Unveils ‘Graph Search’ Technology In Media Event
Drumroll please…. After a great deal of speculation, Facebook Inc. (NASDAQ: FB) unveiled a new search feature at a company event held on the company’s main campus in Menlo Park, Calif. Jan. 15. Graph Search will allow users to sort information shared by their friends to reveal answers to simple questions.
“Graph search is a completely new way to get information on Facebook,” Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said.
Zuckerberg said the new feature—which is entering beta testing—is meant to provide users with a “precise answer” instead of a link to an answer by utilizing data—including information about people, places, photos and interests—already present on the social networking site.
For example, Zuckerberg explained, if he searched Graph Search for Mexican restaurants in Palo Alto, Calif., the tool would retrieve a list of restaurants his Facebook friends had reported visiting or clicked the “like” button for on Facebook.
“You need to be able to ask the query, like, who are my friends in San Francisco,” Zuckerberg said. “Graph search is a really big product. It's going to take years and years to index the whole map of the graph and everything we have out there.”
According to Zuckerberg, users will be able to tailor their searches by asking what specific music, restaurant or even dentists their friends like—to name a few examples. Graph Search will only sort through content that has been shared with the, however, so privacy will not be a concern.
“On Facebook, most of things people share with you aren’t public,” Zuckerberg said. “You want access to things that people have just shared with you.”
Zuckerberg stressed that the searches will be limited to Facebook data, as the company will not be delving into Internet searches.
Still, by entering the search market, Facebook will be able to compete with tech giants Google and Microsoft by showing advertisers a real-world purpose for all the likes and shares collected through its site.
“The social link gives you additional context,” Motley Fool analyst Andrew Tonner, when asked about the implications of a social search feature ahead of Facebook’s event, told the Washington Post. “You’re more likely to take some sort of action if someone you know has also had a favorable experience.”
During its beta test of Graph Search, Facebook will slowly roll out the feature to English-speaking audiences. Users interested in taking part in the test can join the waiting list and will be notified when the test is available in their areas.
“We'll start rolling it out very slowly,” Zuckerberg said. “We're looking forward to getting into more people hands over coming weeks and months.”
With more than one billion users, Facebook is easily the world’s largest social network. After a shaky IPO last spring, the company has recently started making some headway on Wall Street. Although its much-anticipated fourth-quarter results have yet to be released, Facebook shares are up more than 15 percent since Jan. 1.
[Image via Facebook]