Facebook unveiled a social search feature on Tuesday. The ‘Graph Search’ is a personalized search engine that looks for people, photos, places and interests within Facebook, and is ‘privacy-aware’, so you can only see content that has been shared with you, in the results.
With graph search you can look up anything shared with you on Facebook, and others can find stuff you have shared with them. The first version of Graph Search focuses on four main areas — people, photos, places, and interests. Posts and Open Graph actions (for example, song listens) are expected to be available in the coming months.
How is Graph Search different from Web search?
A blinding flash of the obvious, to begin with. The Web search searches the Web; Graph Search searches only the content you could already view elsewhere within Facebook.
A more useful difference is that with Web search, you take a set of keywords (for example: ‘hip hop’), and are provided with the best possible results that match those keywords. There are about a zillion results to your queries, and your social life has no bearing on any of them. With Graph Search you can combine phrases (‘My friends in New York who like Jay-Z’), and theoretically at least, get a list of your friends in New York who like Jay-Z. Feel like trying out a new restaurant? You can look up Graph Search to see if anyone you know has eaten there.
The Graph Search is currently on beta, with limited preview restricted to English (US) audiences. Facebook says the roll out is going to be slow, as the social network studies how people are using the Graph Search, and make improvements.
You can join the Graph Search waiting list here.