Facebook enhances social search with Graph Search engine

'We wanted to make search more social,' CEO Mark Zuckerberg says of the new tool

Facebook is rolling out a major new search engine designed to give users more options in sorting through topics and interests based on their friends.

The social network is positioning the tool, dubbed Graph Search, as a way to make the site more useful, encourage people to share and "like" more, and increase connections between users. The feature is based on an engineering infrastructure that the site has been developing for years, said CEO Mark Zuckerberg during a press conference at the company's headquarters in Menlo Park, California.

While Facebook typically has served as a way for people to stay connected to the things they are already connected to, Graph Search will significantly broaden the site's aim to also allow users to make new connections. "This is a trip back to our roots," Zuckerberg said. "[It's] something no other company has."

Graph Search works by allowing users to type in a query, in plain English, in a new search field at the top of any Facebook page. A search can still be done for an individual person or group, just as the original search field functioned, but where Graph Search differs is that users can now search using phrases linked to specific interests and the likes of their friends.

For instance, users can type in, "Friends who like Star Wars," or "Mexican restaurants in Palo Alto my friends have been to," and a list of search results will immediately appear, either of those friends who have "liked" the movie "Star Wars" in the first case, or a list of restaurants, including some extra information about the businesses, in the latter search. Results are displayed based on importance, so a restaurant with more likes is likely to show up toward the top of the list. Other features besides likes, such as restaurant check-ins performed through Facebook, also factor in to how search results are displayed.

The Graph Search map, the company said, can serve as the basis for lots of different services for connecting users.

The tool, which is available now, is still in its very early stages. The beta version rolls out Tuesday on a limited basis to users on the order of hundreds or thousands, Zuckerberg said, and is years away from being complete. At the moment, Graph Search can only handle queries based on people, photos, places and interests.

"Graph Search is a really big project, and it's going to take years and years to index the whole map of the graph," he said.

During the event, Facebook fielded questions from the audience regarding privacy controls, including whether queries performed using Graph Search will allow people to see likes or other friends' information that is hidden from their own timeline.

But Facebook executives assured attendees that with Graph Search users can only see content that they could see before, and users can only search for content that has been shared with them. The company is also rolling out more user-friendly privacy controls to keep users' information hidden and make it easier to untag photos.

The company has also partnered with Microsoft's Bing social search engine to fill in some of the gaps where Graph Search falls short, such as for weather reports or, say, new music releases. But Facebook stressed that Graph Search is based on indexing Facebook data and is not a Web search.

"We're not saying, 'this is the Web here,'" Zuckerberg said. "Graph Search is designed to take a precise query and return to you the answer, not link to others places where you might get the answer," he said, referring to the pitfalls of a typical Web search.

The tech community has been abuzz since last year over rumors of a Facebook smartphone, but no plans for a phone or any other type of hardware were discussed during the press conference.

Tags Internet-based applications and servicesMicrosoftbingmark zuckerbergsocial networkinginternetsocial mediaFacebook

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Zach Miners

IDG News Service

Comments

Comments are now closed.

Latest News Articles

Most Popular Articles

Follow Us

GGG Evaluation Team

Kathy Cassidy

STYLISTIC Q702

First impression on unpacking the Q702 test unit was the solid feel and clean, minimalist styling.

Anthony Grifoni

STYLISTIC Q572

For work use, Microsoft Word and Excel programs pre-installed on the device are adequate for preparing short documents.

Steph Mundell

LIFEBOOK UH574

The Fujitsu LifeBook UH574 allowed for great mobility without being obnoxiously heavy or clunky. Its twelve hours of battery life did not disappoint.

Andrew Mitsi

STYLISTIC Q702

The screen was particularly good. It is bright and visible from most angles, however heat is an issue, particularly around the Windows button on the front, and on the back where the battery housing is located.

Simon Harriott

STYLISTIC Q702

My first impression after unboxing the Q702 is that it is a nice looking unit. Styling is somewhat minimalist but very effective. The tablet part, once detached, has a nice weight, and no buttons or switches are located in awkward or intrusive positions.

Resources

Best Deals on GoodGearGuide

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?