Mark Zuckerberg has introduced “the third pillar” of the Facebook ecosystem, called Graph Search that accompanies its News Feed and Timeline. It’s a new way to search through Facebook’s massive amounts database of photos, people, places, and interests. “Graph search is not web search,” as Zuckerberg adamantly points out. It is meant to look for specific content based on your query, rather than a general answer provided by a web search.
The company achieves this by mapping out its users’ relationships with other people and their interests, which they call the graph. The graph itself already has over a billion people, more than 240 billion photos and more than a trillion connections. Graph Search looks through all this data to get at what a user might want, for example all the photos they’ve liked or what music they might like based on what their friends like. The results pop up based on the people you interact with the most, then mutual friends and so on, so that they get the right results they want. It also helps people find new interests that they may like with an “Extend this Search” feature.
For now Graph Search focuses on four main areas: people, photos, places, and interests. If you’re looking for photos, for example, you could type in “photos of my family,” or “photos I like.”
For those who are afraid of Graph Search unearthing some dark secrets, a drunken photo or two, fear not. Graph Search only lets people find what’s already been made public and respects the privacy of its users. “You can only see what you could already view elsewhere on Facebook.” says the company.
To further improve the search feature, the company also partnered with Bing to power the web search feature, to supplement the results from the Graph Search. Bing results will appear as traditional blue web links, so as not to be confused with Graph Search results.
For now Graph Search is slowly rolling out with a limited beta for English-speaking users. You can sign up for the waitlist at this link. For now, the service is web-only and has a limited number of actions with no Posts and Open Graph actions (like song listens), but will be worked on over the coming months.